Curtis Painter to remain Colts' starter

INDIANAPOLIS -- Curtis Painter's struggles, an 0-10 record and fans clamoring for a quarterback change hasn't swayed Colts coach Jim Caldwell.

On Wednesday, Caldwell told players and reporters that Painter will make his eighth start this Sunday against Carolina.

"Curtis has not played a whole lot of football around here for us, and I think he needs to be given a good, clean opportunity," Caldwell said. "A lot of things happened out there that I don't think were his fault. I just don't feel like he's gotten a clear opportunity to do that yet, so I want to give him that opportunity."

The Colts rarely make midseason changes unless there's an injury. But the quarterback situation has been a mess since four-time league MVP Peyton Manning had his third neck surgery in 19 months on Sept. 8.

Manning hasn't practiced since then and isn't expected to play in any games this season. Indy brought in Kerry Collins to replace Manning, for $4 million, but Collins sustained a concussion in Week 3 against Pittsburgh and will end the season on injured reserve.

Painter replaced Collins, but has lost all seven of his starts and all three of the games he's appeared in as a backup.

He's 117 of 214 for 1,315 yards with five touchdowns and seven interceptions, though he's thrown six of those interceptions since his last TD Oct. 16 against Cincinnati. Over the last four games, Painter's weekly quarterback ratings have been 38.1, 50.6, 41.9 and 40.1 in his last four games.

Dan Orlovsky, the only other healthy quarterback on Indy's active roster, relieved Painter each of the past two games, prompting many to think that Caldwell might make a change after Indy's bye week.

Not a chance.

"We just have to keep getting better, keep improving," Painter said.

Orlovsky is 14 of 21 for 122 yards with no TDs and no interceptions in Indy's last two games, though he did give the Colts a late spark against Jacksonville.

While Orlovsky said he understands the decision, he would have preferred starting.

"I'm disappointed every Sunday when I don't get the chance to play," said Orlovsky, who started seven games with the 0-16 Detroit Lions in 2008. "So my role will be to back up Curtis. Do I want to be out there? Of course."

Caldwell just thinks the Colts will be better served with Painter behind center, for now.

"I just don't think we've necessarily given him an opportunity to do his best," Caldwell said. "I think there were a couple of games that we did, and maybe he hit a little bit of a tailspin, but you can't always see everything until you slow it all down on tape and I think you'll see him continue to improve."