The NFL's two-time MVP spent reporting day at home in Indianapolis, his valuable left knee immobilized after having surgery to remove an infected bursa sac.
Manning's injury, of course, is Indianapolis' biggest question heading into the preseason, and for the first time since undergoing the procedure July 14, the perennial Pro Bowler tried to provide some answers about the ailment that suddenly sidelined one of the league's most durable quarterbacks last week.
"I'm not really in very much pain," he told reporters in a conference call, his first public comments since surgery. "I have pain medication but I haven't had to take any in about eight days. The doctors think no pain means the infection is clearing."
That's good news for the Colts, who are still hedging their bets at quarterback in case it takes Manning longer to recover.
Manning said he was being treated for swelling in the knee and had it drained several times during the offseason. Then July 14, he woke up in severe pain, had trouble walking and immediately flew back to Indy. Team doctors recommended he have surgery.
The former Super Bowl MVP is expected to miss four to six weeks, Manning is hoping coach Tony Dungy's most recent prognosis on the shorter end proves correct. Manning has never missed a start, building the NFL's second-longest streak of consecutive starts for a quarterback (160), and he's missed only one play in his career because of injury.
Manning acknowledged he'd rather be resting at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, where his teammates begin practicing Friday. But Dungy acknowledged the better choice may be keeping Manning in Indy to avoid any potential temptation of Manning returning too soon.
Manning's longtime backup, Jim Sorgi, now becomes the temporary starter.
"That (position) was something we targeted to perhaps upgrade if we could, but we wanted to do it with experienced guys," team president Bill Polian said. "So we thought it made sense to bring them in."
Manning, too, understood the need for extra arms since he's expected to open camp on what could be the league's highest-profile physically unable to perform list. NFL defensive player of the year Bob Sanders, former league sacks champion Dwight Freeney, starting guard Ryan Lilja, starting linebacker Tyjuan Hagler and rookie tight end Tom Santi are all expected to join Manning on the PUP list.
Polian was waiting to make those moves official until he met with the team's medical staff later Thursday. All the injured players except Hagler are expected to be ready for the season opener Sept. 7 against Chicago. Dungy said Hagler may be out until October.
For now, that means Manning has to wait.
He's keeping the left leg compressed and elevated, and continues to take antibiotics intravenously to prevent the risk of infection.
When will he show up at Terre Haute?
"It could be as soon as tomorrow or it could be some time next week," Manning said during a conference call with reporters. "The doctors have not really given me a timeframe. I'm just trying to take their advice and do what I can."
The rash of injuries has not only left Indy short-handed because of the NFL's reduction in training camp rosters, but also prompted Reggie Wayne, who usually makes a funny entrance, to take a more serious approach.
He was even asked if he considered showing up on crutches.
"That would not be funny," he said. "I was going to do something but with all the stuff going on, I just decided to be me."
Polian announced all nine of the team's draft picks had signed their contracts including two players - linebacker Philip Wheeler and Santi - whose deals could not be confirmed Wednesday night. The team also waived quarterback Josh Betts and guard Mike Elgin and claimed offensive lineman Doug Datish off waivers from Atlanta.
But with so many injuries to key players, everyone wants to know when they will return.
"If it was up to me, I would have played January whatever," Freeney said, referring to the Colts' playoff game against San Diego. "But I know it's a process. I think it will be about three weeks till I get back out there, and I think the game plan is to have me play in the fourth or fifth (preseason) game."
No date has been established for Manning's return to the field, either.
Polian said an infection specialist must first clear Manning to practice, and then he'll have to work on his conditioning.
"He has to rehabilitate the knee because an infection is debilitating," Polian said.
In the meantime, Manning will continue to study film, toss a few balls, talk to friends and teammates and hope for a quick return.
"It's hard to know how much time I'll need to get ready because I've never had to experience it before," he said. "Obviously, you hope through 11 years and more with the minicamps and summer school, I have enough deposits in the bank to be ready for a new season without much work in training camp. I don't think you can just parachute in the Sunday of the Bears game and be ready."