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It was reported today that doctors have cleared Peyton Manning to stand on the sidelines during this Sunday’s Chiefs-Colts game. Given that Manning has been sequestered in the coaches’ booth for games until now, this certainly is a step in the right direction, but don’t get too excited. Manning still has a long way to go before he is even limited in practice, let alone before he’s driving the Colts’ offense down the field in a game situation.
The milestones include full fusion of the vertebrae, extensive range of motion in his neck and back, regeneration of the triceps nerve, and a return of his arm strength. Given the likelihood that Manning had a titanium plate inserted to stabilize his vertebrae, the fact that the bones have had 4 weeks to heal, and the fact that doctors cleared him based on the most recent x-ray, it is fair to say he has achieved (or very nearly achieved) that first milestone.
With respect to range of motion, both Phil B. Wilson and Seth Wickersham mentioned that Peyton has struggled to turn his head to his left, so he probably still has work to do in the range of motion department. According to ESPN’s Paul Kuharsky, Bill Polian mentioned in his weekly radio show that Peyton “had been increasing his activity recently, something that Manning confirmed.” It’s unclear what that activity was, but I doubt it is leaps and bounds more than the power walking he has been doing on the practice field.
The true monkey wrench in all of Manning’s rehab, though, is the regeneration of the nerve. The only hint we’ve had so far of development in that area was a report by Will Carroll on September 29 that insiders say the nerve regeneration is “’slow again.’” It’s great to hear that Manning is in good spirits, “jovial, funny,”and we can’t underestimate the importance of having a good attitude when it comes to recovery. However we also can’t overestimate what it might signal that Manning will be allowed back on the sidelines. After all, according to injury expert Will Carroll, “Timmy from South Park could get cleared to do that.”