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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Can Manning Return? - Sidney Crosby skates amid recovery - Sheridan added to Meyer's Ohio State staff

Sources fearful over Manning’s ability to return
INDIANAPOLIS – For all the discussion over Peyton Manning’s future with the Indianapolis Colts, the underlying issue is that people close to him don’t believe he’ll resume his career.
The nerves in Manning’s arm are not healing as quickly as hoped and, worse, don’t appear to be progressing at enough of a rate to indicate that he will play again, according to two sources with knowledge of Manning’s rehabilitation from neck surgery. The vertebrae in his neck that were fused have healed as expected and Manning began throwing in December. But he hasn’t shown improvement in velocity on his passes, and the two sources fear he likely never will again.
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Peyton Manning sat out all of the 2011 season after recovering from neck surgery last summer.
In addition, two league-affiliated doctors with experience in spinal fusion surgery said it could take up to a year before Manning knows if he can return. Both said the risk is too great for Manning to play again and, because of the timeline, neither would recommend the Colts pay Manning the $28 million bonus he is owed in March.
Manning couldn’t be reached for comment.
Colts owner Jim Irsay declined to talk about Manning’s health on Monday before a news conference, but did say, “There are no cases of quarterbacks going through this.”
Irsay may have no choice but to let go of Manning. While some people have tried to paint the situation as Irsay choosing to move on from Manning as he rebuilds the Colts after a 2-14 season, that was not Irsay’s intention months ago. In October, Irsay discussed the optimal situation of having both Manning and his heir apparent on the roster simultaneously.
“Guys like that come along so rarely,” Irsay said on Oct. 10 at an NFL owners meeting in Houston, referring to Manning and perceived No. 1 overall pick Andrew Luck (although Irsay has since indicated that Robert Griffin III could also be the selection). “Even if that means that guy sits for three or four years, you’d certainly think about taking him … you see what Green Bay did with [Brett] Favre and [Aaron] Rodgers and you’d like to be able to do the same thing.”
At this point, that scenario is unlikely and not because Irsay doesn’t want to pay the money for Manning. Rather, Manning has hit a plateau in his rehabilitation in terms of getting stronger, both sources said. While atrophy in the arm was expected, the fact that it hasn’t improved recently is an ominous sign.
“If you’re getting consistent improvement, then that’s OK. Even if it’s going from lifting 10 pounds to 15 pounds to 20 pounds over a stretch of weeks, that’s fine,” said a doctor who has not seen Manning but has a background in spinal surgery. “If you hit a plateau, that’s a problem. … Now, I say that, but I also tell patients who have been through it that it can take up to a year to find out exactly how much strength you’re going to get back.
“Right now, Peyton is at about six months. He should have a much better idea by July or August just how far he’s going to get … even then, that’s only a part of it. You can tell about 80 percent of how the nerves and the muscles are healing by rehab. What you really have to see is how his arm holds up when he starts to throw. Does he have the same velocity on the 15-yard out? Can he throw the 60-yard pass? Can he throw for 30 minutes before his arm gets tired? Can he throw for an hour? It’s a very complicated process.” It’s a process Irsay may not be able to gamble on at this point.
Jim Irsay on Peyton Manning: "Peyton is everything you dream about as an owner, getting that type of player. I have just been so blessed with all that he's done for this franchise."
As for Manning’s side of it, he remains confident that he will return to action next season even as the progress remains slow. Last week in an extensive interview with Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star, Manning expressed frustration as to why so many people who he has worked with over the years have been let go by the team, including team president Bill Polian and coach Jim Caldwell. While Manning understands the team needing to move forward, he believes he will be able to play again.
“Any athlete is going to remain confident,” one source said. “He wants to play again. He’s going to do everything he can to get out there.”
Sadly, that may not be enough.

Sidney Crosby skates amid recovery
Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby skated on Monday as he continues his slow return from a second battle with concussion-like symptoms.
Crosby skated on the Consol Energy Center ice for the first time in more than six weeks on Monday, joining fellow injured teammates Simon Despres and Jordan Staal for a brief workout.
And while coach Dan Bylsma refuses to put a timetable on Crosby's return, there at least appears to be a sense of optimism despite news over the weekend the 24-year-old superstar suffered a neck injury last January that perhaps complicated his nearly 11-month recovery from a concussion.
Crosby spent All-Star weekend in Pittsburgh after traveling to Los Angeles to visit neurological spine specialist Dr. Robert S. Bray, who reported that Crosby suffered a neck injury as well as a concussion in January 2011.
The team acknowledged on Saturday that Bray discovered an unspecified neck injury that was "fully healed."
An independent physician is studying the findings before the team makes any sort of determination on Crosby's next step.
Bylsma said Crosby worked at a "pretty good clip" during his session, adding Pittsburgh's captain was "pretty excited" to be back at work, even in a limited capacity.
"Anything that's progressing for him to get healthy and getting back to 100 percent and feeling like Sidney Crosby does is a positive," Pittsburgh forward Chris Kunitz said. "If he's skating and doing things, that's good for him as a person and that's what counts."
Crosby hasn't played since concussion-like symptoms returned against Boston on Dec. 5. He skated with his teammates during a swing through Florida earlier this month but hadn't been on his home ice in 54 days.
General manager Ray Shero said during All-Star weekend he remains optimistic Crosby will return this season.
The Penguins entered the break the hottest team in the league, winning seven straight. They host Toronto on Tuesday.

Sheridan added to Meyer's Ohio State staff

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Ohio State has announced that Bill Sheridan will join new coach Urban Meyer's coaching staff as a defensive assistant.
Sheridan, a Detroit native who attended Grand Valley State University, has coached for 31 years including seven seasons in the NFL. He was the linebackers coach for the Miami Dolphins the past two seasons. He won a Super Bowl ring in 2007 in his five years with the New York Giants.
Ohio State's release said it was unknown what position or group of players Sheridan will coach.
He has served as an assistant at Maine, Cincinnati, Army, Michigan State, Notre Dame and Ohio State rival Michigan at the college level.

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