INDIANAPOLIS — Peyton Manning is out, Kerry Collins is hurt and Curtis Painter isn’t sure if he’ll be starting next week.
It’s just another messy Monday in Indianapolis.
Less than 13 hours after a third straight loss, the Colts’ quarterback carousel spun wildly — team officials denied a report Manning was lost for the season, declined to say whether Collins had suffered a concussion and sidestepped the issue of adding another quarterback to the roster.
“It just depends on the situation and we’ll address it as we go,” coach Jim Caldwell said. “We have to look at all the possibilities, and it’s our job to cover all those bases.”
Many are wondering just how much can be covered this week.
Manning is expected to miss at least five more weeks and perhaps the season after having neck surgery Sept. 8, his third in 19 months.
Collins didn’t talk to reporters Monday because he was receiving injury treatment. Caldwell said Collins was forced out of Sunday night’s game because of concussion-like symptoms and that he was still being evaluated. Collins also missed practice time last week with a sore throwing shoulder.
Colts vice chairman Bill Polian told radio listeners Monday night that Collins was “feeling better today than he was yesterday” with a decision expected later this week.
“He has to go through a workout protocol, and we will know more later in the week,” Polian said.
The only other quarterback on the Colts’ active roster is Painter, the tough-luck backup who led the Colts to their most meaningful touchdown drive of the season Sunday night. Painter is still waiting to hear whether he will make his first career start next Monday at Tampa Bay.
“I’m not sure,” he said. “I’m sure we’ll find out more in the next couple of days.”
Collins’ injury status isn’t the only concern at the team complex.
Last week, fed-up fans started lobbying for Painter to replace Collins. On Monday, those calls picked up steam.
Collins has completed 49 percent of his passes, averaging less than 5 yards per attempt. He’s thrown two TDs, one interception, lost three fumbles and been sacked five times and, at times, looked absolutely dreadful.
During a second-half stretch in the Week 2 loss to Cleveland, Collins threw 10 straight incompletions and was 3 of 9 in the third quarter Sunday before leaving.
Painter went 5 of 11 for 60 yards with one sack, one lost fumble but produced Indy’s only TD drive of the game. It was his first regular-season action since the end of 2009.
After Sunday’s game, Caldwell said he and his staff would evaluate the play of both quarterbacks, and not just because of Collins’ health.
“We will look at all the other factors as well. All of them,” Caldwell said Sunday night.
Of course, the first full-blown quarterback controversy in Indy since Manning’s arrival wouldn’t be complete without an update on the four-time league MVP.
Team owner Jim Irsay reportedly told attendees at a private breakfast with Super Bowl donors Monday morning that Manning would miss the rest of the season.
A few hours later, Irsay wrote this on Twitter: “I didn’t say Peyton out 4season FOR SURE,keeping him on ActiveRoster n taking it month by month/Outside chance of return n December possible.”
That’s essentially what the Colts have been saying for the past 3½ weeks.
Caldwell’s response: “The only thing I know is what was stated on Sept. 8 when we released the last statement. I think that stands, and I think our owner clarified his position with his last tweet.”
Some fans are already pleading for the Colts to bring in new quarterbacks.
The most obvious names are Brett Favre, David Garrard and Carson Palmer.
Favre, who turns 42 next month, struggled last season with the Vikings and has shown no indication he’ll be making another NFL comeback.
Garrard’s agent, Al Irby, said in an email to The Associated Press that Indy has not contacted him, and the price to get Palmer, presumably a first or second-round pick, may be too much for the Colts.
Besides, it might not even help.
“You’ve got to be realistic about it,” Colts vice chairman Bill Polian said last week. “You have to be tough-minded, you have to be thick-skinned and you have to be as realistic as you can be. Nobody can operate the offense the way Peyton can.”
Perhaps that’s why some of the fans writing off this season are already lobbying to choose Manning’s successor.
They want the Colts to throw away the season and use the No. 1 draft pick on Stanford’s Andrew Luck — not a popular thought in the locker room.
“This is not where this team expected to be after three games, 0-3,” Pro Bowl center Jeff Saturday said. “It’s unacceptable and we’ve got to get a win.”
And Manning may still be able to help break the losing streak.
“He’s a resource for us. He’s been around this system for a long time, and I don’t think you’re very smart if you don’t use it,” Caldwell said. We don’t care whose idea it is. We use everything we possibly can.”