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Manning has repeatedly said the 4 1/2-month lockout delayed his rehabilitation because he couldn’t work out with team doctors.

When he returned in 2008 after missing all of camp, Manning struggled during the first half of the season. He eventually led Indy to nine straight wins and back to the playoffs, picking up the third of his record four MVP awards.

Could he take a snap to keep the streak alive? Sure.

But Manning ruled out that possibility last week.

“I have to be able to competitively play,” he said then. “I have too much respect for football. I’ve got to be able to compete and to help my team win, and that’s what’s fair to the team, fair to myself.”

And right now, it appears, that means playing with someone other than Manning behind center for the first time since December 1997.

“He loves to play, loves to compete, loves to practice, and any time he can’t, it’s tough,” Caldwell said. “That’s who he is. He’s always been a hardworking guy. He doesn’t miss days _ offseason, in-season, you name it _ he’s always there. I think that’s the commitment to the sport he’s made since he was a little guy.”