Cole writes that Manning’s nerves in his arm are not healing as fast as doctors believed they would which has left him with limited velocity when throwing the ball.
This is a pretty serious sign as a certain amount of atrophy is expected but the fact that’s he been unable to progress in the last few months could be an indication that he’ll never be able to return to form.
“If you’re getting consistent improvement, then that’s OK. Even if it’s going from lifting 10 pounds to 15 pounds to 20 pounds over a stretch of weeks, that’s fine,” said a doctor familiar with spinal surgery but hasn’t worked with Manning. “If you hit a plateau, that’s a problem. … Now, I say that, but I also tell patients who have been through it that it can take up to a year to find out exactly how much strength you’re going to get back.”
Colts owner Jim Irsay has said that he would like to keep Manning but the uncertainty surrounding his health leaves the team with very few options. Manning has been unwilling to renegotiate his upcoming bonus of $28 million which will almost certainly result in him being released on March 8th.
“Right now, Peyton is at about six months. He should have a much better idea by July or August just how far he’s going to get … even then, that’s only a part of it. You can tell about 80 percent of how the nerves and the muscles are healing by rehab. What you really have to see is how his arm holds up when he starts to throw. Does he have the same velocity on the 15-yard out? Can he throw the 60-yard pass? Can he throw for 30 minutes before his arm gets tired? Can he throw for an hour? It’s a very complicated process.”
At this point it’s safe to say that the question is no longer whether or not he’ll be released by the Colts but will he ever be able to play again. It’s still hard to image any of this happening a little over a year ago when Manning was playing in the playoffs, possibly for the last time.