Manning feared revelation would give opponents advantage

INDIANAPOLIS -- Peyton Manning kept quiet about his second knee surgery for one reason: He thought it would give opponents an advantage.

The two-time league MVP answered questions about the surgery for the first time publicly Wednesday, two days after coach Tony Dungy confirmed Manning needed two surgeries to clear the bursa sac infection in his left knee.

"The reason I just didn't really confirm or deny it the first time was I just didn't really want the Bears to know they were playing against a guy that was four weeks off of surgery," he said. "I know if I was playing against a corner that was four weeks off of surgery, I would definitely test out how good that surgery was in a game. So I just didn't think it was fair to reveal that information."

Manning continues to insist it is irrelevant now that he has produced his two best games of the season. A week ago, he helped orchestrate a remarkable comeback at Houston, rallying from 17 points down with less than five minutes to go, and then threw for three touchdowns in Sunday's 31-3 victory over Baltimore.

The reward for beating the Ravens was Manning's first AFC player of the week award since Dec. 2, 2007.

But for weeks, Manning declined to answer persistent rumors about a second surgery. Then last Friday, during a TV production meeting, Manning confirmed it.

On Monday, the Colts for the first time also acknowledged Manning had undergone a second surgical procedure. Because Manning usually speaks to reporters on Wednesdays and after games, he was not available for interviews.

The questions have not dissipated.

Dungy was asked Wednesday to explain why the team did not provide details earlier.

"I don't know; that's something you'd probably have to ask organization," he said.

That question-and-answer exchange prompted Craig Kelley, Colts vice president of public relations, to say the team never denied it.

Clearly, though, the injury has been big news since the Colts announced July 14 that Manning needed surgery.

The surgery was the second biggest story during training camp, exceeded only by Brett Favre's summer soap opera in Green Bay. Even Manning, who has never missed an NFL start and has only missed one career play because of injury, acknowledges the Favre saga took some of the spotlight off his recovery.

But when Favre was traded to the Jets, Manning's absence moved to center stage.

He didn't return until Aug. 26, didn't play in his first game until the regular-season opener against Chicago and spent the first month of the season trying to get that precision timing down with his receivers.

Sunday was the first time Manning looked like himself, hitting receivers in stride and hooking up on deep balls.

"You have to disclose most things, but I do think when it comes to protecting a player and not giving the opponent any unfair advantage besides what you're required to reveal, that was the whole reason for that," Manning said. "That was what I wanted to do."

Manning, the perfectionist, still isn't satisfied.

Despite the dramatic improvement Indy (3-2) showed against the league's top defense, Manning believes the Colts can improve in a few areas. They had 11 penalties, one of which cost Manning a fourth touchdown pass and his first 300-yard game of the season, and they still ran for only 76 yards.

Plus, Manning continues to recover from the operations that may have been blamed for his uncharacteristic slow start. Others don't see it quite the same way.

"I think he's responded very well," Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy said. "I think that was very evident in the Baltimore game. You see the comfort and timing, and the timing is coming back."

As for Manning, he wants to be finished talking about the knee.

"I was just trying to not give them any type of advantage, whether they change their blitzes or whatnot," Manning said. "I didn't want to keep it from anybody, and it didn't necessarily have to be a secret. That was just the whole reasoning for it."