Without Manning, what would Colts try?

Chris Mortensen says Peyton Manning's progress remains painfully slow. That there is no consensus from doctors about why his recovery from May neck surgery is way behind schedule. That the team does not believe he will be ready to play Sunday in Houston.

If he’s not, what sort of offensive plan will we see from Indianapolis?

It’s easy to say the team will need to scale things back with Kerry Collins at the helm. But the Colts can’t snap their fingers and become a running team that will milk the clock. The personnel and scheme are not suited for it, and there was nothing in the preseason to indicate the team would try a major alteration.

The offensive line is still very much a work in progress. Collins will have to do very smart work in terms of sensing pressure, getting rid of the ball fast, giving up on plays when things break down. Joseph Addai, Donald Brown and Delone Carter might have more chances to show what they can do, but the blocking for them was a question even when Manning was expected to play.

Without him, things can be messy.

Without him, we’re going to learn a lot about a lot of people, from the game-planners, to the graybeard quarterback, to the people working to help him succeed.

Without him, the Colts become something they rarely are: a major underdog.