- Associated Press - Monday, August 29, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS — Peyton Manning is back. Whether he is ready to play is an open question.

The Colts activated Manning from the physically unable to perform list Monday. A few hours later, the four-time MVP pulled on his white No. 18 jersey and a helmet, and jogged onto the practice field, renewing hopes that he might play in the season opener at Houston on Sept. 11 four months after neck surgery.

While Manning said again that he won’t play in Thursday night’s preseason finale at Cincinnat, he clearly is getting closer. He acknowledged that he is healthy enough right now to take a snap or play a series to keep his consecutive-games streak intact but insists he won’t.

Manning has started 227 consecutive games, including the playoffs, the second-longest streak in NFL history for quarterbacks behind Brett Favre.

Of all the numbers Manning has put up over the years, the streak is the one he usually has said means the most.

Manning had been on the PUP list since the team’s first training camp practice Aug. 1 following the May procedure to repair a nerve in his neck.

Eagles’ Vick lands six-year, $100 million contract

PHILADELPHIA — Michael Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles agreed on a six-year contract Monday that again makes the Pro Bowl quarterback one of the highest-paid players in the NFL. The deal is reportedly worth $100 million, including about $40 million guaranteed.

Vick led the Eagles to the NFC East title last year, was the starting quarterback in the Pro Bowl and was the AP Comeback Player of the Year. He was due to earn slightly more than $16 million this season after the Eagles designated him the franchise player in February.

Cowboys cut center Gurode

IRVING, Texas — Five consecutive trips to the Pro Bowl weren’t enough to save Dallas Cowboys center Andre Gurode’s job.

The Cowboys cut the veteran center Monday for a variety of reasons that included his age and salary, his decision to have knee surgery so late in the offseason that it sidelined him for the start of camp and by the performance by Phil Costa, an undrafted, unproven second-year player in Gurode’s absence.

Backup QB battle for Steelers

PITTSBURGH — Charlie Batch and Dennis Dixon don’t have to worry about losing their jobs anymore, even if the Pittsburgh Steelers backup quarterbacks would rather have taken a different path to a steady paycheck.

Byron Leftwich’s gruesome broken left arm suffered in the third quarter of a 34-16 win over Atlanta on Saturday potentially ended the veteran’s season and gave Batch and Dixon a reprieve.

Now they head into the preseason finale Thursday at Carolina looking to see who will be Roethlisberger’s understudy.

Titans free up roster spot

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee placed running back Chris Johnson on the reserve/did not report list in a move that frees up an extra roster spot for the final preseason game. The administrative move has no impact on contract talks with Johnson, who met with the Titans last week but remains a holdout.

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