The owner of the Indianapolis Colts confirmed on Monday morning what most NFL fans expected - star quarterback Peyton Manning is unlikely to play again this season.
But Jim Irsay said he expects Manning back for the 2012 season.
"Peyton should be back. He had the neck fusion, it went well. The biggest thing is to get the regeneration back in the nerve in his throwing arm. We feel that it will. My anticipation is he can come back, probably 2012," Irsay said in a breakfast meeting with Super Bowl organizers and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, according to CNN affiliate WTHR-TV. "I don't see him coming back this year. It's possible he could practice in December. We'll see. I think he can come back and finish off a great career here."
In a later Twitter post, Irsay said the Colts would keep Manning on the active roster, and that there is an "outside chance" Manning could return in December.
Without Manning, the Colts have been winless this season, dropping games to Houston and Cleveland and then to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night, 23-20.
Manning had surgery for a neck injury earlier this month, forcing him from the lineup for the first time in his 13-year NFL career.
In July, the Colts signed Manning, a four-time MVP, to a five-year, $90-million contract extension.
Kerry Collins has replaced Manning as the Colts quarterback.
Colts coach Jim Caldwell may have more information at a press conference later today.