ESPN’s Chris Mortensen Provides a Manning Update

I tuned in to ESPN yesterday morning just in time to see that upcoming on the ESPN NFL Countdown show was a ‘Manning Timeline’ update, followed by a ‘Manning or Luck?’ segment. My first inclination was to tune to some other channel, as I felt that we had already heard everything we needed to know during his impromptu locker room interview on Thursday (thanks again to Indy Star’s Phil B. Wilson and Mike Chappell for transcribing the interview). But Chris Mortensen has often has broken news over the course of the previous eight Sundays that seems to have been shared only with him, so I stayed tuned.

Here’s what we learned from Mort:

1. Manning’s neck fusion is expected to be complete by December. This is on the outside edge of, but in line with, the consensus estimates of 2-3 months.

2. Due to the nerve regeneration process, Manning HAS been able to work on rebuilding his pectoral muscle.

3. The nerve regeneration process has NOT yet allowed him to work on his biceps and triceps. Evidence that his triceps in particular has atrophied is seen in this video taken on Friday when Manning granted wishes to 3 children from the Make a Wish and Children’s Wishing Well Foundations (his biceps doesn’t actually look too bad in this screen capture). Compare the screen capture from that video to a similar angle taken after Week 8 of the 2009 season.

Manning shakes hands with a young man invited to practice

Manning looking healthy in 2009

4. Team doctors have recommended against Manning throwing for the time being for fear that it could lead to elbow and/or rotator cuff issues.

5. The option to pick up the 4 remaining years in Manning’s contract is scheduled for March 8, 2012. With the 2012 NFL league year starting on March 5, that gives the Colts 3 days to decide whether or how to move ahead with Manning. Side note – March 8 is exactly 6 months to the day after Manning had his third neck surgery… makes me wonder whether the clause was variable based on whether he might have needed that third surgery.