Peyton Manning’s season in doubt after 3rd surgery

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INDIANAPOLIS — Colts quarterback Peyton Manning underwent more neck surgery Thursday, the third time in 19 months, and will miss not only the opening game but possibly the season.

Losing Manning for any stretch of time is a huge blow to the Colts and throws the race for the AFC South wide open. The four-time NFL MVP hasn’t missed a game in 14 seasons, with 227 consecutive starts, including postseason.

“Rehabilitation from such surgery is typically an involved process,” the team said in a statement, calling the procedure “uneventful.”

“Therefore, there will be no estimation of a return date at this time. We will keep Peyton on the active roster until we have a clear picture of his recovery process.”

The Colts’ statement came just hours after team owner Jim Irsay wrote on Twitter that the 35-year-old Manning would be out “awhile” and coach Jim Caldwell promised to provide more clarity. The Colts could have put Manning on injured reserve to open up a roster spot, but that would have meant he would not play at all in a season that will end in February with the Super Bowl played at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Team officials said Manning had an anterior fusion procedure to treat the nerve problem that was continuing to give him trouble months after his May 23 surgery.

Kerry Collins will replace Manning in the lineup Sunday at Houston, making him the first Colts quarterback other than Manning to start a game since Jim Harbaugh on Dec. 21, 1997.

Around the league

DOLPHINS: Two-time Pro Bowl running back Larry Johnson re-signed with the Miami Dolphins five days after they cut him. The move may have been prompted by an injury to rookie running back Daniel Thomas, who sat out practice Thursday. Newcomer Reggie Bush will start at running back Monday against New England.

COWBOYS: Dallas cornerback Mike Jenkins returned to practice, and right tackle Tyron Smith was partially suited up the day after each left practice with knee injuries. Jenkins warmed up with the full squad and appeared to be fine. The Cowboys already are expecting to be without one starting cornerback, Terence Newman, who hasn’t recovered from a groin injury.

MEDIA: ESPN agreed with the league on an eight-year contract extension that keeps “Monday Night Football” on the network through the 2021 season. The deal is worth $1.9 billion a year for a total of $15.2 billion over the length of the contract.

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