From Comcast SportsNetINDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Peyton Manning is cleared to play football. Still not so clear is whether it will be with the Indianapolis Colts. He got the good news Thursday while little brother Eli was making final preparations to lead the New York Giants against the New England Patriots in Sunday's Super Bowl -- something big brother always aims for. Maybe there's even a Manning vs. Manning Super Bowl in the offing. What remains unsettled, though, is Peyton's status with the Colts and whether he and team owner Jim Irsay can patch up their very public spat. At least it's a possibility now that Manning's surgeon has given the star quarterback clearance to start taking hits again. "Peyton Manning underwent a thorough medical re-evaluation as part of a postoperative visit with his surgeon," Dr. Robert Watkins said in a statement. "As a result of this examination, Manning is medically cleared to play professional football." Colts owner Jim Irsay responded to Watkins' statement by writing on Twitter that Manning has not been cleared to play by the team because he has not passed its physical. He said the club would issue a statement later Friday. That's just another piece of this muddled mess. The Colts owe Manning a 28 million roster bonus by March 8, they want to use the No. 1 pick in this year's draft on Manning's successor and they must make key decisions over the next five weeks without knowing yet how much room they'll have under the salary cap. Manning, who turns 36 in March, had neck surgery in September -- his third in 19 months. "We're in a holding pattern in that respect," new general manager Ryan Grigson said when asked if the uncertainty would prevent the Colts from doing business with their soon-to-be free agents. "Until it is (resolved), we're going to go about our business as usual." Nobody seems to know how this will play out. The biggest problem in Manning's recovery has been regaining the strength in his throwing arm. That's something Manning and the Colts have not discussed, and, apparently, it's not even a topic between the two brothers. "I don't know what's going to happen with Peyton," Eli Manning said. "I know he is rehabbing. He is going to try to get better. I know he wants to continue to play football, if that's an option. The No. 1 priority for him is to get to 100 percent. Until he gets to that position, it's tough to say what is going to happen." The Manning circus has dominated the headlines at Indianapolis' first Super Bowl. It started with rumors about Manning's possible retirement, and the Colts' pending statement will certainly keep Peyton in the headlines -- and overshadow his brother's quest for a second Super Bowl title -- for a fifth consecutive day. The question is whether the Colts are willing to pay a 36-year-old quarterback who has had three neck surgeries in 19 months. And there have been growing indications the Colts may be ready to part with their longtime franchise player, though Irsay will make the final call. "You can't do things to where you are going to hurt the whole franchise with other decisions that you know might hurt at the moment, but in the end they help the sum of the parts," Grigson said. "It is a tough deal in this business, and it happens at every position. It happens with coaching, it happens with people in personnel and it is completely part of the process and the business." Irsay and Manning are scheduled to meet again next week. Last month, the Colts fired vice chairman Bill Polian, general manager Chris Polian, coach Jim Caldwell and most of Caldwell's assistants. The flurry of moves prompted Manning to go public with his complaints, which drew a strong rebuke from Irsay. The two appeared to mend fences Friday. But the onslaught of Manning news just keeps coming. "It's hard not to pay attention. It seems to be all over the news everywhere and I don't live in a cave," said Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, the presumed successor to Manning. "You never really replace someone like that," he added. "He (Manning) is such an iconic sports figure especially for this city, this area. From what I understand, he's done so many great things outside of football and in the community."
The Bulls’ starting point guard missing the team’s season opener is less than ideal, but that is the dilemma Fred Hoiberg and company are faced with.
Hoiberg made the announcement during shoot around that Kris Dunn would miss the first game of his third NBA season for personal reasons, but noted that his absence is “excused.”
The Bulls will turn to Cameron Payne as they get set to play the Sixers in Philadelphia Thursday night. The 24-year-old guard out of Murray State will be tasked with running the offense against one of the better defensive teams in the league.
Because of injuries and the numbers game at guard, Payne hasn’t had a chance to show Bulls fans much since he came over from Oklahoma City in a trade that sent Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott to the Thunder.
“I feel like I can be way better,” Payne said when asked about the opportunity to show what he can do. “I know I didn’t make a lot of shots but it’s really not about that. It’s about getting my team involved and make sure everyone gets the ball in their spots to contribute.”
Payne showed flashes over the last 22 games of the 2017-18 season (14 starts), shooting 42 percent from three and averaging 4.6 assists per game in that stretch. The shooting stroke didn’t show up early in the preseason for Payne.
He was better in the team’s final exhibition against Denver and has shown enough to Hoiberg to earn the starting nod. He’ll have his work cut out for him tonight.
“Obviously we’ve been working on different coverages based on having a full roster, but things like this happen,” Hoiberg said when asked what this does to his game prep. “It’s going to be electric in here. They’re going to come out and play extremely hard and extremely physical. That’s who they are and we have to be ready for that. It’s a little bit of shock and awe with (the Sixers). You have to weather that first storm and hopefully give ourselves a chance with great effort.”
After Payne, the Bulls will have Ryan Arcidiacono as the first point guard off the bench. They’ll also have the services of newcomer Tyler Ulis, who will be in uniform tonight. Hoiberg mentioned that he feels comfortable with Zach Lavine bringing the ball up as well. He also mentioned that Jabari Parker will have his hands on the ball an awful lot with the team’s second unit.
The season hasn’t even started yet and the Bulls are already missing several key players. After an impressive rookie season, Lauri Markkanen will start the season on the shelf with a high grade lateral elbow sprain. Denzel Valentine will also miss tonight’s game with an ankle injury. The team may have Cristiano Felicio, also dealing with an ankle injury, depending on his pregame workout goes.
“It’s not ideal but it is what it is,” Hoiberg said. “It happens at this level. You just have to go out and do the best job you can. It’s an opportunity for our guys to step up with two of our better players out of the lineup – really three with Denzel as a guy that can make plays in that second unit.”
Corey Crawford was officially activated from injured reserve on Thursday and will start in goal for the first time since Dec. 23, 2017 when the Blackhawks host the Arizona Coyotes.
"It’s exciting," coach Joel Quenneville said. "I’m sure he’s looking forward to it and we’re all excited about it as well. It’ll be a fun situation for the guys, seeing him back in the net as well. So we’re looking for everyone to be excited about tonight’s game."
The two-time Stanley Cup champion was medically cleared to practice from his concussion on Oct. 1, but the Blackhawks wanted to give Crawford as much time as he needed to get his conditioning and puck-tracking skills up to game speed before putting him into game action.
"It feels good to be back to myself," Crawford said on Wednesday. "I'm feeling good, I'm feeling clear. It was a pretty long process. ... Practices have been great, been getting timing a little bit more and getting up to speed and reading shots and all that, so it'll be nice to finally get in one."
To make room for Crawford on the 23-man roster, the Blackhawks have assigned forward Luke Johnson to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League. Brandon Saad, who wore a white healthy scratch jersey all week at practice, will take his spot in the lineup.
For now, the Blackhawks will hang on to Anton Forsberg and carry three goaltenders as insurance as they get ready to start a seven-games-in-11-days stretch.
Crawford was 16-9-2 with a 2.27 goals against average, .929 save percentage and two shutouts in 28 games last season. The Blackhawks were 17-30-8 without him and finished last in the Central Division.