- Associated Press - Monday, August 22, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - The Indianapolis Colts take Peyton Manning’s injury seriously.

Jim Irsay’s tweets, not so much.

A day after the team owner wrote on Twitter that he was in Hattiesburg, Miss., the city Brett Favre calls home, coach Jim Caldwell and his players tried to dismiss speculation Favre would be joining the Colts as Manning’s backup.

“I think they’re hilarious,” defensive captain Gary Brackett said of Irsay’s posts. “Usually, he’s trying to write something from some kind of country song, he has a lot of giveaways or whatever. But I wouldn’t call anything on Twitter gospel.”

Regardless, the Colts are now in the midst in a swirling storm that involves the league’s only four-time MVP, Manning, the league’s only other three-time MVP, Favre, and an owner who uses social media to connect directly _ frequently and sometimes humorously _ with fans.

Manning has been on the physically unable to perform list since training camp opened Aug. 1 as he continues to recover from May neck surgery, the second surgery on his neck in 15 months. On Saturday evening, Manning said he would not play in the Colts‘ final two preseason games because the recovery was taking longer than expected, in part he believes, because he could not work out with team trainers during the 4 1/2-month lockout.

Caldwell has not said when Manning will return to practice after missing 25 consecutive workouts. Manning insists he’ll need the next two weeks just to get healthy.

Irsay compounded the concerns Saturday morning when he tweeted that the Colts must be prepared to start the season without their No. 1 quarterback. Irsay has not responded to interview requests made by The Associated Press.

Indy’s dismal preseason play — they’ve been outscored 49-13 in two losses — even prompted Irsay to ask fans who they’d prefer if they signed a veteran free agent. The only other quarterbacks on the roster are third-year veteran Curtis Painter, who has a career rating of 9.8, longtime NFL backup Dan Orlovsky and undrafted rookie Mike Hartline.

Painter is trying to ignore the talk.

“I never really have read much and I don’t follow too many things on there,” Painter said. “I kind of focus on myself and trying to put myself in the best position I can.”

On Sunday, Irsay was back at it, this time writing he was in Mississippi. It’s unclear whether he was being serious when he wrote: “I’m in Mississippi,down at the crossroads….looking 4 that deal Mr. Johnson cut so many years ago.”

More than likely, it was a reference to blues musician Robert Johnson, a Mississippi native. The legendary story says Johnson made a deal with the devil at a crossroads in his home state so he could become a star.

When the follow up Tweet referenced Hattiesburg, speculation about Favre began in earnest, and then Irsay tweeted: “I can’t clear anything up…everything is fluid and in flux…b ready 4 anything n everything then nothing is not foe BUT FRIEND!

“One of the things that you know about him (Irsay) is that he’s very current,” Caldwell said. “He uses social media to engage our fans, he uses it to inform and he uses it have to fun. He’s got a lot of folks engaged and that’s what it’s for.”

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