If Peyton Manning returns next season, for the first time in 14 years he’ll have a logo other than a horseshoe on the side of his helmet.
The sight of Manning in another uniform will be the most visible sign the team he is leaving behind — the rebuilding Colts — will have a very different look in 2012. Not only do the Colts have a new GM and a new coaching staff, but it’s now nearly certain a new starting QB as well.
Dwight Freeney, who spent 10 years as Manning’s teammate, told NFL Network the Colts were caught unprepared last season.
“We’ll definitely see what the team is,” Freeney told “NFL Total Access” Tuesday. “I think last year wasn’t a true test and (not) really a good indication of what type of team we have. It was a shock; he was supposed to be there, and he wasn’t. We didn’t really prepare well for life after Peyton.
“We will see what happens.”
Freeney said he believes Manning will return at full-strength, but the he has questions about the quarterback’s longevity — specifically, if one hit could end his season prematurely. But Freeney believes Manning, even if not completely back to his former self, is still worth the risk.
“I think an 80 percent Peyton is better than a lot of 100 percents out there,” Freeney added.
For what it’s worth, Freeney said he plans to play out the final year of his current contract with the Colts, but said “we’ll see what happens” when asked about his return thereafter.
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