For the first time in his pro career, Peyton Manning will miss a start at QB Sunday for the Colts, and it couldn’t come at a worse time, as the team opens the season in Houston taking on the rival Texans.
It was just last season that the Texans and then unknown RB Arian Foster ran all over Indy on opening day, and while the Colts recovered to make the playoffs, they wanted to make a statement with a win opening day vs the Texans.
Now if they do it, it will have to be with the ageless Kerry Collins, who came out of retirement to ink with the Colts after Manning had neck surgery and couldn’t play in the preseason. Collins is 38, and will play over Curtis Painter.
“I really do feel like I’ve come a long way in a short period of time,” said Collins. “I expect to run the offense, bottom line. Make plays when they’re there, be smart with the ball, make good reads, good decisions, get us into the right plays when the situation calls for it.”
The Colts game plan will see Collins make plenty of check downs to TE Dallas Clark, and also look often to sure handed WR Reggie Wayne, who seemed to be against the move of bringing Collins in when it was announced.
Manning isn’t the only big injury in this game, as Foster is trying to come back for the Texans from a hammy injury suffered in a preseason game against the 49′ers. Last season he led the NFL with 1,616 yards and 16 touchdowns. He also led all running backs with 604 receiving yards.
Coach Gary Kubiak said Wednesday that Foster “has improved every day,” but remains “day to day.”
Look for Foster to be limited if he can go, and most of the carries Sunday will fall on his backups, Derrick Ward and Ben Tate. They will likely split backfield duties. Tate, who was in the running for the starting job as a rookie last year before suffering a season-ending fractured right ankle, has shown some skills during the preseason.
With Foster hampered, the game will come down to if the Colts can stop Texans QB Matt Schaub and All-Pro WR Andre Johnson. If the Texans can get those two going, it’s going to be a long day for the Colts, who on paper can’t keep up with the Texans on the scoreboard.
The Texans D will make it a tough day for the Colts offense all the way around. Collins needs to pull off some magic, and that’s going to be a tough task as without Manning, the Texans and their fans will smell blood.
Houston 23 Indianapolis 13