Manning isn’t close to being healthy.
The Denver Broncos’ 39-year-quarterback told a select group of news outlets Wednesday, including The Associated Press, that he has no idea when he’ll play again.
Sitting at his locker to take the weight off his injured left foot, Manning said during a nine-minute interview that his focus isn’t on his future or who starts at quarterback for the Broncos (9-2).
“That’s so far ahead of what I’m thinking about,” Manning said. “I’m doing what Coach Kubiak asked me to do, is to try to get healthy. I’m following his instructions and I look forward to being healthy yesterday, I can assure you. This cast is kind of like a holding pattern. Everybody asks, ‘Is it better? Is it better?’ The answer is: I don’t know because I’m not putting any pressure on it and it’s sort of immobilized.
“But the idea is for it to help toward the healing process. But there’s no guarantee whatsoever. So, all the other questions and speculation, I don’t have anything for you on that.”
Manning consulted with noted foot specialist Dr. Robert Anderson in Charlotte, North Carolina, last week “and everybody wants to know what did he say? He said I have an injured foot. And everybody says, ‘Well, when did he say you’re going to get better?’ When it heals. You know, some earth-shattering medical information there,” Manning said.
Despite the 10 pieces of mail he gets every day with “solutions and suggestions, some healing medicines, which I appreciate,” Manning said Anderson told him “there’s no magic fix to this, it’s kind of an individual thing.”
Manning had the walking cast removed Tuesday night and now he’s in a bulkier walking boot until Friday. He said he’ll start his rehab Saturday “and after that I’m just kind of on a one-week-at-a-time basis.”
That’s how Osweiler and coach Gary Kubiak characterized Osweiler’s starting status Wednesday amid rampant speculation that the Broncos should stick with the longtime backup with the offense humming along with big wins over Chicago and New England.
Osweiler said he’s not ready to view his starting job as more than a temporary gig.
“You know, I’m not really focused with how long am I going to be the starter? Am I the starter? Am I not the starter?” Osweiler said. “All I know is I’m the starter this week against the Chargers.”
After practice, Kubiak said nothing’s changed from his perspective: Osweiler’s his quarterback this week and the goal is to try to get Manning healthy and back on the field as soon as possible.
Manning revealed his foot has been bothering him for much of the season, although he declined to say exactly when he first hurt it, suggesting “timelines and all that are kind of irrelevant. It’s bothering me now.”
Playing on the turf in Indianapolis on Nov. 8 exacerbated the injury. He was replaced by Osweiler in the third quarter against the Chiefs the following week after throwing four interceptions on the same day he became the NFL’s all-time passing yards leader.
He remains tied with Brett Favre for most wins by a starting quarterback in the regular season with 186.
Under Osweiler, the Broncos are a much different team. The athletic quarterback’s ability to run bootlegs and play action has opened up Kubiak’s zone-based offense, which had been modified for Manning.
Osweiler credited Manning with giving him tips at halftime Sunday night that helped Denver come back from a two-touchdown deficit to beat the previously undefeated Patriots 30-24 in overtime.
“It’s obviously difficult not being out there,” Manning said. “… But while I’m not, I try to do whatever I can to help. I’ve always been a team player, try to be a good teammate, whether it’s answering any questions that Brock may have or (quarterbacks coach) Greg Knapp may have.”
Manning said he’s proud of Osweiler’s play and happy for his teammates.
He’ll let everyone one else speculate about his football mortality, though.
“This is when ‘they’ and ‘sources’ seem to show their heads a little bit,” Manning said. “And I’ve always wanted to meet ‘they’ and ‘sources’ because both seem to know a lot. But I haven’t thought much more than about trying to get healthy. That’s what I’m trying to do.”
– By Arnie Stapleton, AP Sports Writer
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