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Colts' Irsay doesn't 'envision' Manning playing this year

The likelihood of Peyton Manning returning to action for the Colts in 2011 is fading fast.

Colts owner Jim Irsay has come to grips with this reality, telling WXIN-TV on Thursday that he doesn't "envision Peyton playing this season."

Manning's still on the Colts' active roster while rehabbing from September neck surgery, but it's uncertain if or when he'll be cleared to practice, probably the more realistic goal for the four-time NFL MVP with four games left on the slate.

"These things take time," Irsay told WRTV-TV, via The Indianapolis Star. "The best doctors can't predict. People often think someone knows for sure, and the answer is only time will tell. He is doing everything he can to get back and is working as hard as he can."

Irsay's remarks are a departure from his torrent of hopeful words earlier in the year.

"8 weeks til xmas,less than 100 days til Super Bowl...Peyton's healing well,maybe he'll take a snap b4 the ball falls in NYC,New Year's eve!" Irsay tweeted in November, just weeks after he placed the odds of the quarterback's return at "slightly less than 50 percent" in October.

In a week when Archie Manning, Peyton's father, made the rounds acknowledging that Colts general manager Bill Polian would face a dilemma if Indy wound up with the No. 1 overall draft pick, there is a larger question forming: If healthy, where exactly will Peyton Manning be playing one season from now?

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