Peyton Manning's Backups
The Colts weren't satisfied with Curtis Painter as their lone option to replace Peyton Manning should his recovery from offseason neck surgery spill into the regular season. So, they signed Collins, 38, who appeared headed for retirement after a career that began with the expansion Panthers in 1995. Collins, who with every passing day looks more likely to start the Colts' opener at the Texans on Sunday, is the latest in a long line of Plan Bs to Manning, who hasn't missed a start since high school and has made 208 straight in the regular season since being drafted No. 1 overall by the Colts in 1998. In all, Manning hasn't missed a regular-season start dating to his days at New Orleans Isidore Newman High School.
Painter, taken in the sixth round out of Purdue in 2009, was just the second quarterback drafted by the Colts since they plucked Manning in 1998. In 2009, the Colts began the season with three active quarterbacks for the first time since 2002 -- Manning, Jim Sorgi and Painter. The longtime understudy Sorgi was placed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury Dec. 9. Painter ascended to No. 2 and stayed there until Collins' signing. Career Colts stats: 2 games, 8 for 28, 83 yards, 0 TDs, 2 INTs, 9.8 rating. Other Colts quarterbacks in the Painter era: Tom Brandstater, Nate Davis, Mike Hartline, Tim Hiller, Dan Orlovsky, Drew Willy.
Sorgi is the most well-known of the Manning understudies, as he held the clipboard during most of the Colts' glory years, including their Super Bowl run in 2006. He was a sixth-round pick out of Wisconsin in 2004, the first QB drafted by the Colts after Manning. The Colts cut Sorgi in early 2010, and he signed with the Giants to be Eli Manning's backup, only to be placed on IR before the season. Sorgi is a free agent. Career Colts stats: 14 games, 99 for 156, 929 yards, 6 TDs, 1 INT, 89.9 rating. Other Colts quarterbacks in the Sorgi era: Josh Betts, Shane Boyd, Travis Brown, Chris Crane, Quinn Gray, David Greene, Joe Hamilton, Shaun King, David Koral, Jared Lorenzen, Mike McGann, John Navarre, Jeff Saturday (Pro Bowl center made one unsuccessful pass attempt in 2004), Adam Tafralis.
Huard, recently known for his work as an ESPN college football analyst, came to the Colts from the Seahawks, where he was a third-round pick out of Washington in 1999. For Indy, he logged late action in 31- and 34-point blowouts in Weeks 4 and 15 of the 2003 season, as well as a wild-card weekend 41-10 spanking of the Broncos. Huard went back to Seattle after 2003 but never played another game, while his older brother, Damon, continued in the league. Career Colts stats: 2 games, 2 for 3, 22 yards, 88.2 rating. Other Colts quarterbacks in the Huard era: Tom Arth, Jim Druckenmiller, James MacPherson, Cory Sauter, Greg Zolman.
Rypien is the most accomplished -- in the NFL, at least -- of Manning's No. 2s. He made two Pro Bowls with the Redskins and quarterbacked Washington's 1991 Super Bowl champion, taking MVP honors. He came to the Colts after two seasons off caring for his wife, Annette, who had cervical cancer. He beat out Billy Joe Hobert for the No. 2 job in training camp and is the only QB to replace Manning in a game due to injury, for one snap. Manning was hit under his chin by Miami's Lorenzo Bromell, which caused a hairline fracture of his jaw. Rypien fumbled his only snap, the Dolphins recovered and won 27-24. Manning still regrets sitting out that play. Career Colts stats: 4 games, 5 for 9, 57 yards, 74.8 rating. Other Colts quarterbacks in the Rypien era: Mark Hartsell, Billy Joe Hobert (No. 12 crouching), Dave Meyer, Roderick Robinson.
You could call Holcomb the default incumbent when Manning joined the Colts in 1998. He started one game among five appearances in 1997, recording one touchdown and eight interceptions and helping the Colts to the No. 1 draft pick. While other QBs Jim Harbaugh and Paul Justin departed after that 3-13 year, Holcomb stayed. He was the No. 1 in camp during Manning's six-day, eight-practice holdout. But Holcomb would never take another regular-season snap for Indy as Manning embarked on his Hall of Fame career. Career Colts stats (as Manning's backup): 0 snaps. Other Colts quarterbacks in the Holcomb era: Stoney Case, Pete Gonzalez, Jim Kubiak, Bill Musgrave, Doug Nussmeier, Gus Ornstein, Mike Quinn.
The same Walsh that starred at the University of Miami in the 1980s spent his final pro season in Indy at age 32, displacing Holcomb on the second team. Walsh spent most of his on-field time on one knee, holding for kicker Mike Vanderjagt. Career Colts stats: 2 games, 7 for 13, 47 yards, 2 INTs, 22.4 rating. Other Colts quarterback in the Walsh era: Stoney Case.
Martin did what Manning couldn't do: win a national title at Tennessee. He did so in 1998, his first year in succession of Manning. As a freshman in 1996, Tamaurice Nigel "Tee" Martin was needed from the get-go as Manning's backup with Jeremaine Copeland being better suited as a receiver and Jeremy Bates transferring. Career Tennessee stats (as Manning's backup): 10 games, 8 of 16, 111 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT.
Copeland came to Tennessee a Swiss Army knife, able to play QB, RB, WR, LB and DB. He eventually settled in as one of Martin's top receiving options, catching 104 passes, but due to other transfers was needed in his freshman and sophomore years as Manning's backup. Career Tennessee stats (as Manning's backup): 15 for 22, 134 yards. Other quarterback in the Copeland era: Shawn Snyder.
Bates was an early enrollee in 1995 and the only scholarship quarterback other than Manning in spring camp. Bates decided after the 1995 season to pursue baseball and transfer to Rice, where he was a two-sport athlete. Most recently, Rice was the Seahawks' offensive coordinator but was fired after his only season in 2010. Career Tennessee stats (as Manning's backup): 7 games, 0 for 3.
Manning's freshman season in 1994 started like this: No. 1 quarterback Jerry Colquitt suffered a season-ending knee injury on the seventh play of the first game. No. 2 quarterback Todd Helton -- that Todd Helton -- started the next three games but injured his knee against Mississippi State. Manning and Stewart, also a freshman, were Nos. 3 and 4. While Manning assumed the starting gig, Stewart received the occasional series. With the writing on the wall, Stewart transferred to Texas A&M after the 1994 season and enjoyed a more fruitful tenure in College Station. Career Tennessee stats (as Manning's backup): 11 games, 40 for 62, 490 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs. Other Tennessee quarterback in the Stewart era: Jerry Colquitt.
Helton just about gave up football for baseball after his injury, but he can still technically be called a Manning backup. In Tennessee's regular-season finale against Vanderbilt, he came in for Manning and took one snap -- a handoff to Jay Graham -- and called it a football career. Tennessee won 65-0. Career Tennessee stats (as Manning's backup): 1 snap.