The Texans camp wasn’t exactly buzzing Thursday when news broke Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning had undergone another neck surgery and would be out for quite a while.
It had already been determined 24 hours earlier that Manning would not be in uniform and Kerry Collins would be in his place for Sunday’s AFC South clash with the Texans to kickoff the regular season. The consensus Thursday was the same as the day before: Whether Manning is in the lineup or not, the reigning AFC South champs are still a formidable team and the Texans are still the team looking up at them.
“This team is capable of doing a good job with Kerry (Collins) out there at quarterback. He’s got great experience,” said free safety Danieal Manning. “They still have their core guys. The receivers are great, the offensive line is good. It’s definitely a game. Every Sunday, anything can happen as we all believe.”
That means the Texans are preparing for the Colts best shot even as the team is obviously reeling from the loss of its leader.
“My focus don’t change,” said strong safety Glover Quin. “We’ve been focusing on doing us and on what we do, so it’s not going to change whether Peyton’s (Manning) playing, whether (Kerry) Collins is playing. It doesn’t matter.
”We have to do what we do because Kerry Collins is a winning quarterback in this league as well. We still have to play great.”
The Colts seemed to act in desperation two weeks ago when they pulled Collins out of retirement as an emergency option in case Manning wasn’t able to go. Collins is someone the Texans know well after facing him as the Tennessee Titans starting quarterback in recent years.
And while there is some comfort in familiarity there is also a great deal of respect around the Texans camp for what Collins brings. Collins is 3-4 versus the Texans all-time, but he was 3-2 versus Houston during his run with the Titans.
Collins, however, hasn’t performed as well against the Texans new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, going just 1-8 all-time against the veteran defensive guru and his 3-4 defense.
“I don’t see much difference,” Phillips said when asked to compare Collins and Manning’s skills. “He’s an experienced quarterback that can play the game and he’s won games. I think he scored 31 (against Houston) last year at Tennessee. He’s more than capable. I’ve got great respect for him; a guy who’s played a long time who knows how to play.”
The same goes for Texans coach Gary Kubiak.
“I think he’s a hell of a player,” Kubiak said. “He’s been successful against us.
“My focus right now is on our football team. We’ve got to get ourselves ready to play. It doesn’t matter who you play or whatever, it matters how you play in this business, so we’ve got to prepare to get ready to win a game.”
Although this is the season opener, many see this as a pivotal game for the Texans in their quest to unseat the Colts as the top team in the AFC South and make the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. Running roughshod over the Colts in the opener with Manning in control would be great, but getting the win without the perennial All-Pro in the lineup will mean just as much to the Texans.
“I don’t think it makes any difference the first ball game,” Phillips said. “I think you get ready to play; you’re excited about playing football again. Obviously, he’s a great player but they’ve got a guy there who can play and has won a lot of games. It’s more about us getting ready to play.”
The Texans say they don’t plan to change their approach to the game at all knowing Manning won’t be on the field.
“We have to do what we do regardless of who they have at the quarterback,” Quin said. “Our rules don’t change just because we have a different quarterback. We still have to go through our reads, we still have to cover our guys, we still have to make our calls and play the game. It doesn’t matter who they got throwing the ball. Our rules don’t change.”
Note: Kubiak said running back Arian Foster is still day-to-day with his hamstring injury. Foster did not practice again Thursday, but Kubiak seemed hopeful he could make a determination on Foster’s availability by Friday.