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The 4½-month lockout prevented him from working out with team trainers and he couldn’t negotiate a new contract with the Colts during that time. He started training camp on the physically unable to perform list, which prevented him from working out with teammates until Aug. 29.

With Manning, the Colts have been a perennial Super Bowl contender. Without him, the most dominant team in the AFC South since its creation faces a daunting challenge: trying to become the first team to play a Super Bowl in its home stadium without having Manning behind center for possibly the entire season.

Since being taken with the No. 1 overall pick in 1998, Manning has led the Colts to 11 playoff appearances, 11 double-digit winning seasons, eight division crowns, two AFC titles and a Super Bowl championship.

The biggest question is when he will return.

“None of us know,” coach Jim Caldwell. “It is a little bit in flux at this point.”

Khabie said the fact that Manning has had neck surgery three times in such a short period is reason for concern.

If Manning does return this season, he will also be playing behind a revamped line that has three new starters and a fourth playing a new position. Longtime right tackle Ryan Diem has moved inside to guard.

The player who can empathize most with Manning is running back Joseph Addai, who injured a nerve in his left shoulder Oct. 17 against Washington, then missed the next eight games.

There were times, Addai recalled, he would wake up during the night with sudden pain. There were other times he couldn’t hold a microphone or the ball would drop out of his hands with a slight bump.

Addai figured the ensuing bye week would give him enough time to heal, but it took more than two months to get back into a game and he still didn’t feel 100 percent until this season.

“After a while it came back, but you don’t really know when it’s going to come back,” Addai said. “It’s frustrating.”

Addai said Manning asked him about the experience, something the two discussed at length since players reported to camp July 31.

Addai said he’s worried about playing the Texans without Manning.

“You know how important Peyton is,” Addai said. “I think everybody has to step it up.”

Kerry Collins will replace Manning in the lineup Sunday, making him the first Colts quarterback other than Manning to start a game since Jim Harbaugh — now the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers — on Dec. 21, 1997.

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