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Colts will consider drafting a quarterback

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Associated Press
November 15, 2011
— Bill Polian may finally find Peyton Manning’s successor in April’s NFL draft.

And apparently he has Manning’s approval.


Indy’s vice chairman told radio listeners Monday night that he’s already spoken with Manning about the possibility of using a high draft pick on a quarterback though Polian isn’t discussing specific names yet.


“The bottom line is that if the right person is there, and it has to be the right person, then now is the time to make that choice,” Polian said on his weekly radio show. “Peyton and I have spoken about that, and he’s OK with that.”


Polian has declined interview requests from local reporters about the subject, which has become increasingly more important with each succeeding Colts’ loss.


At 0-10, Indy is the NFL’s only winless team and now holds a two-game lead in the chase for the No. 1 pick. Most expect that choice to be used on Stanford’s Andrew Luck, who some scouts believe is the most complete college quarterback since the Colts took Manning with the No. 1 overall choice in 1998.


Manning hasn’t played or practiced since having neck surgery for a damaged nerve on Sept. 8, his third neck procedure in 19 months. Manning’s return is no guarantee. Earlier this month, Manning told reporters he was still waiting for the fusion to heal and the nerve to regenerate. The four-time league MVP signed a new five-year, $90 million deal in July, matching Tom Brady’s record average annual salary of $18 million.


Manning is due a $28 million bonus next year, though Indy can opt out of the deal after the season.


That has only fueled the speculation about Luck, whom Polian has refused to discuss because league rules prohibit team officials from talking about underclassmen before they declare for the draft. Luck is a junior.


And the Colts already have some insight into the Cardinal quarterback.


One of Polian’s sons, Brian, is Stanford’s assistant special teams coordinator. Manning’s father, Archie, and Luck’s father, Oliver, were teammates with the Houston Oilers in 1982 and 1983. Andrew Luck attended the Manning Passing Academy as both a camper and a counselor, and Archie Manning has acknowledged that the two second generation quarterbacks spoke earlier this year after Luck decided to return to school.


Polian has already attended one Stanford game this season, too, and is scheduled to get a second look this weekend.


“I’m around the country scouting this week, and I will ironically finish up at Stanford, but it has nothing to do with any choice we’ve made. That’s just how it worked out,” Polian said. “We won’t make it (a decision) until April.”


The Colts have a bye this week and won’t play again until Nov. 27 when Carolina visits Indy.


Team owner Jim Irsay and Bill Polian continue to say they believe Manning has several good years left in his right arm. Polian made his most definitive statement Sunday night, telling the Colts’ flagship station after a 17-3 loss to Jacksonville that he expected Manning to play next season.


But, clearly, they’re pondering a post-Manning era.


Colts general manager Chris Polian, another of Bill Polian’s sons, brought in Andrew Dalton for a workout before the previous draft and if the Colts have a shot at Luck with the No. 1 pick, it would be tough not to make the choice.


With Manning, the Colts won a league-record 115 regular-season games from 2000 to 2009, tied the league record with nine straight playoff appearances, won two AFC titles and a Super Bowl crown.


Without him, they haven’t won a game and after four consecutive poor performances from backup Curtis Painter, many fans are wondering if the Colts should make another quarterback change when they return from the bye. Painter took over for the injured Kerry Collins in late September.



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