Peyton Manning would not put a percentage on the health of his left knee now seven weeks after he had surgery to remove an infected bursa sac, but said he is ready to continue his consecutive games started streak Sunday night when the Bears visit Lucas Oil Stadium.
Manning has started all 160 regular-season games in his 10-year career, a streak that only trails the one Brett Favre will continue with the New York Jets this season.
"I am certainly ready to play,'' he said this morning in a conference call with Chicago media. "I can't give myself a percentage, I guess. It's kind of been uncharted territory for me, it's been a different challenge for me.
"But I've worked hard to get prepared to play this game and hopefully can have a good week of practice, this week of preparation and I'll go out and hopefully play at a high level."
Manning returned to practice last week and there have been reports that he actually underwent a second procedure on his knee at some point.
"It's somewhat sort of irrelevant at this point I guess as far as what has happened in the past," he said. "The fact is I am here right now at this point. I have rehabbed hard to get to this point. I have never been one of those guys that really sort of talked a lot about injuries. You see it pretty common now a lot of players are talking about their injuries and the specifics.
"I'm not a doctor and I can't give you all the specifics. I can just tell you that I have rehabbed hard and I am ready to play this week."
Guessing, it wouldn't take a doctor to be able to tell if he's had a second procedure but that would seem to be pretty solid proof he did in fact have a second procedure, surgery, whatever you want to call it.
While the Bears lead the NFL (and all forms of organized football) in the number of starting quarterbacks they have used since Favre's ironman streak began Sept. 27, 1992, they also hold that dubious distinction when it comes to Manning's streak that started Sept. 6, 1998.
"Um, no I couldn't," said Manning while chuckling when asked if he knew how many starters the Bears have rolled through in that time.
We'll refer Manning to page 121 of the handy 2008 Colts Media Guide. The answer is a league-high 15 although Baltimore will tie that mark when rookie first-round pick Joe Flacco starts Sunday for the Ravens. It's always nice to have company. (Extra credit if you can name all 15, in order).
"Is that right?'' Manning said. "Well, I never get into speaking for other situations but I have had great continuity here with our offensive scheme and I've had a lot of the same players that I have been playing with, throwing to and certainly the same coaches. That has had a lot to do with being in their every single Sunday. I feel real fortunate to have that."
Manning on the Bears' defense and if it has shown holes in preseason:
"I certainly haven't seen that. I certainly studied the preseason, studied last year and even studied going back two years and I still see the same things over and over again. I see a very fast defense. I see a defense capable of creating a lot of turnovers. I see a defense that makes you execute offensively and doesn't give up any huge gaping holes or busted assignments, big plays. It makes you be really sound as an offense and you really have to protect the ball because these guys fly to the ball and do a good job of stripping the ball and creating tipped balls and getting turnovers.
"The thing about it is sometimes the preseason, there are different guys in there, backups in with the starters sometimes. I still look at the players and I know what this defense is capable of and that's plenty to have me prepare for and I have a lot of respect for this defense."