INDIANAPOLIS — The most famous right thumb in North America got back to work Wednesday, even if it's not quite wiggling at full strength.
Peyton Manning's thumb displayed a pinkish hue before he participated in the Indianapolis Colts' first practice for their Super Bowl XLI meeting with the Chicago Bears. The Colts said X-rays were negative, and Manning was trying to be nothing but positive Wednesday.
"I'm from the Bill Belichick school of discussing injuries, so there's my answer," Manning said, referring to the New England coach, who is notoriously vague when discussing his players' ailments.
Manning has started every game of his nine-year career, and there's little question he'll be fine for the Feb. 4 NFL title game in Miami. Still, there's always the question of preparation time, or reinjury.
Manning was hurt in the fourth quarter of Sunday's AFC title game victory over New England when his hand smashed into the helmet of Colts left tackle Tarik Glenn. Manning didn't come out of the game. The only time he has missed a play because of injury occurred in a 2001 game against Miami, when he took a helmet to the face from a blitzing linebacker. Turned out he had a broken jaw.
He wasn't about to miss any time this week. "I'll practice," Manning said.
Manning has proved so durable over the years the Colts don't worry much about their backup quarterback, Jim Sorgi.
Now that Manning has led the Colts to the AFC title, the only thing left on his to-do list is win the Super Bowl.
"I've always realized how hard it is to win the AFC conference, from all the teams that have beaten us over the years," Manning said. "I saw most of the Bears-Saints game and I didn't like what I saw, the Bears giving the Saints that much trouble."
This will be the second time Manning faces a Bears defense led by Brian Urlacher. On Nov. 5, 2000, Manning was in his third season and Urlacher was on his way to the NFL's defensive rookie-of-the-year award.
Manning had a good day, completing 26 of 39 passes for two touchdowns with one interception at Soldier Field. But the Bears won, 27-24, as Urlacher had 14 tackles, 10 solos.
"I probably don't have enough time to stand up here and tell you all the things I think about Brian Urlacher," Manning said. "Everything you hear is true as far as his instincts and athletic ability. The last time we played them he didn't play [2004, leg injury], and believe me I was not disappointed about that."