Colts owner: Manning’s thumb OK

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Peyton Manning’s injured right thumb gave the Colts a scare Monday. Fortunately, for Indianapolis, that’s all it was.

Manning bruised the thumb on his throwing hand late in the AFC championship game, but X-rays found no broken bones and he’s expected to start against Chicago in the Super Bowl, Colts owner Jim Irsay told The Associated Press on Monday night.

Earlier Monday, coach Tony Dungy said Manning’s thumb was discolored and painful, so the team scheduled X-rays. Manning hit his thumb on the left tackle Tarik’s helmet in the Colts’ 38-34 victory over New England on Sunday night.

Manning, a two-time MVP, engineered the greatest comeback in championship game history, rallying the Colts from an 18-point first-half deficit, to reach his first Super Bowl.

But Dungy never doubted Manning, the Colts’ $98 million man, would miss the game.

“From everything I hear, it’s going to be OK,” Dungy said.

Manning ranks second on the NFL’s consecutive starts list for quarterbacks, behind Brett Favre. He has started 156 consecutive games, including the playoffs.

In fact, Manning has missed only play because of injury in his nine-year pro career, that coming in a 2001 game against Miami.

He was injured when Dolphins defensive end Lorenzo Bromell made a helmet-to-helmet hit underneath Manning’s chin strap. Manning was bloodied and sustained a fractured jaw. Backup Mark Rypien replaced Manning, botched the handoff on the ensuing play and the Dolphins returned the fumble for a touchdown. Bromell was later fined $15,500 for the hit.

Manning’s backup now is Jim Sorgi, a third-year player out of Wisconsin.

Irsay said he was sure Manning would play.

“He’s a tough guy,” Irsay said. “We’re in good shape, we’re fine.”

The most serious injury concern for the Colts is cornerback Nick Harper, who left during the first half Sunday and didn’t return. Dungy said he was uncertain whether it was a high ankle sprain or a basketball-variety sprain that he sustained by rolling the ankle. If it’s a high ankle sprain, it could take four to six weeks to recover.

Tight end Ben Utecht also sprained his right knee, but later returned. Dungy expects him to play against the Bears.

AP-ES-01-22-07 2207EST

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