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Peyton Manning’s Doctor Says Fusion Has Healed Well

Peyton Manning’s injured neck is healthy enough for more work.

He’s just not ready to start taking hits.

One day after Manning’s latest monthly checkup, Dr. Robert Watkins gave the winless Indianapolis Colts and their franchise quarterback some good news in this miserable season: The four-time league MVP is healing.

“I am encouraged with what Doc had to say,” Manning said. “I am happy that I can increase my rehabilitation program as outlined by him … and the Colts’ medical staff. I am hopeful for continued progress in this next phase of my rehab.”

Watkins believes Manning’s recovery will continue.

The 35-year-old quarterback hasn’t practiced since having a spinal fusion Sept. 8. The surgery was intended to repair a damaged nerve in his neck that caused weakness in his throwing arm. It was Manning’s third neck surgery in 19 months and the most risky and complicated of the three.

It sounded as though things were going well when Manning provided reporters with his first medical update, after a checkup in early October. He was thrilled when doctors cleared him to move from the press box to the field and he started taking brisk walks around the practice field.

A month later, in early November after another checkup, Manning said doctors were still waiting for the fusion to become firmly healed before letting him do more strenuous workouts. The comments prompted speculation that Manning may not recover fully from the operation.

On Sunday, television commentators on the Colts-Panthers broadcast even discussed the possibility of Manning retiring after the season, a contention team vice chairman Bill Polian shot down on his weekly radio show Monday night.

In a statement issued by the team Thursday night, Watkins said Manning’s neck has finally healed — right in the two- to four-month timeline predicted by neck and back specialists who did not treat Manning.

Indy’s franchise player is expected to speak with reporters later this week.

“X-ray and CT examination of the surgical area shows that the fusion performed in September has achieved firm fixation,” Watkins said. “Peyton will now be allowed to increase the intensity and breadth of his workouts as tolerated. There remains every indication that his recovery will continue.

“There still is no timetable for Peyton’s return to practice, which is one of many steps in his expected return to game action. He is working hard on a rehabilitation program. … His response to this plan in the future will dictate his return date.”

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