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Colts QB Manning mum on thumb

INDIANAPOLIS (Jan. 24, 2007) -- Colts quarterback Peyton Manning refused to give away any secrets about his bruised right thumb.

The two-time MVP and now AFC champion quarterback kept both hands in his pockets as he walked into his weekly news conference, and when he gestured at the lectern, Manning carefully used his left hand.

He didn't say much more.

"I attended the Bill Belichick school on dealing with injuries, so you know what that is," Manning said, drawing laughter.

Belichick, New England's coach, is known for keeping the status of injured players under wraps.

The thumb injury is a rare nick for the league's best-known ironman outside of Green Bay.

In nine seasons, Manning has started all 156 career games including playoffs, a streak that ranks second among NFL quarterbacks behind only three-time MVP Brett Favre.

But with two weeks between his last victory and a Super Bowl date against the Chicago Bears, the injured thumb has suddenly become big news. Manning hurt his hand late in the AFC Championship Game against New England when he hit it on the helmet of Pro Bowl left tackle Tarik Glenn.

On Jan. 22, coach Tony Dungy said the thumb was discolored, sore and that Manning needed X-rays. Team owner Jim Irsay later said the X-rays were negative and that Manning was expected to start the Feb. 4 Super Bowl.

Those plans apparently haven't changed.

Manning said he's gone through his regular preparation routine this week, studying the Bears defense, breaking down films, and Dungy said he was expected to practice.

"He's fine," Dungy said. "I didn't even know about it until the next day. He threw on the sideline and he was OK, he looked OK in the game and he's supposed to practice today."

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