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Manning remains determined to start Colts' season opener

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning doesn't sound like someone whose streak of 227 NFL starts will end in a couple of weeks.

Sidelined by a May 23 neck surgery, Manning remains optimistic about starting the Sept. 11 season opener against the Houston Texans.

"I sure hope so," Manning said Friday night during the Colts-Green Bay Packers preseason game in Indianapolis. "I have never missed a game my entire football career due to an injury since I was 13 years old and I sure don't want to start this season, and that is my goal to play, but not just to play but to play competitively."

Colts coach Jim Caldwell said after the game that Manning soon could be activated from the physically unable to perform list. If the Colts don't activate Manning from the PUP list by the Sept. 3 final roster cutdown, then the four-time league MVP will be ineligible to play for six more weeks.

Manning seemed pleased with his rehabilitation and said he will meet with Caldwell and the trainers at the proper time to make a final decision.

"I am right in the middle of it," Manning said of his rehab from surgery for a bulging disk. "Working very hard every single day. My trainers and weight coaches are working very hard and putting me to work.

"I still have some work to do in time and I am going to use that time, and at the appropriate time, I think I will know what the right decision is with the help of coach Caldwell and our trainers. We will make that decision and go from there."

Colts general manager Chris Polian was cautiously optimistic, too.

"We've still got a couple weeks to get ready," Polian told before Friday's game. "Hopefully, he is ready. Certainly, everybody is hoping for that. But we don't know that at this point. We know he's not going to play in the preseason."

Manning, who already has ruled out playing any preseason games, has been on the PUP list since training camp opened Aug. 1 following the second surgery on his neck in 15 months. He has said in the past that he believes the recovery was taking longer than expected because he couldn't work out with team trainers during the 4½-month NFL lockout.

Colts officials repeatedly have said that there hasn't been a setback in Manning's recovery, something Polian reiterated Friday.

"He's still progressing in rehab," he said. "He'll be ready when he's ready, and that's when the doctors and he (Manning) say he's ready."

Manning has started all 208 regular-season games in his career and 19 in the playoffs. His streak of 227 consecutive starts (including 19 playoff games) is No. 2 all-time among quarterbacks, trailing only the retired Brett Favre (297).

The only other time Manning's streak was in jeopardy was 2008 when he missed training camp and the preseason after undergoing surgery twice to remove an infected bursa sac from his left knee. He struggled early that season before eventually winning his third MVP award.

The Colts signed 38-year-old quarterback Kerry Collins this week, making him the likely starter if Manning sits out the season opener. Manning's primary backup, Curtis Painter, struggled in the first two preseason games, but he rebounded Friday by going 11-of-21 passing for 171 yards and two touchdowns.

Collins was in uniform Friday night but didn't play. Caldwell said Collins will play in Thursday night's preseason finale against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Aside from Painter and Collins, the only other active quarterbacks on the Colts' roster are longtime NFL backup Dan Orlovsky and rookie Mike Hartline, an undrafted free agent.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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