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Peyton Manning Update: Doctor Says Neck Fusion Has Healed Firmly For Colts QB

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Indianapolis Colts' Peyton Manning looks on from the sideline during the second half of an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2011, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy) | AP

INDIANAPOLIS — Peyton Manning will increase the intensity of his workouts though he has not yet been cleared to practice.

In a statement released by the Colts on Thursday night, Dr. Robert Watkins says the fusion performed on Manning's neck has achieved "firm fixation."

When Manning last spoke to reporters about his health, a month ago, he was still waiting for that to take place.

"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."

Manning's latest neck surgery on Sept. 8 was his third in 19 months and the most complex. He has not been able to practice since, but the Colts (0-11) have kept him on the active roster in hopes he could start throwing passes later this month.

Watkins says it's believed Manning will continue to heal.

"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."

The Colts have fallen apart without Manning, who had never missed a game since being drafted No. 1 overall in 1998. His streak of 227 consecutive starts, including playoffs, ended when he missed the season opener at Houston.

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