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Manning attends grandmother's funeral

INDIANAPOLIS (Oct. 11, 2006) -- Two-time MVP Peyton Manning missed the first regular-season practice of his nine-year career so he could attend his grandmother's funeral in Mississippi.

Manning was one of three Colts' Pro Bowl players excused from the workout. The others were defensive end Dwight Freeney and safety Bob Sanders also were not on the field because they were getting treatment for injuries.

The Colts six-time Pro Bowl quarterback is known as one of the game's top students and hardest workers. He rarely sits out a practice and doesn't even like taking plays off. The only other time in his pro career he was absent from practice was during a brief training camp holdout his rookie season.

Coach Tony Dungy said it was the first time in five seasons with Indy he went to practice without the familiar No. 18 on the field.

"I believe the funeral was today, you don't like to see that, and we've had our share of them," Dungy said. "We'd like to pass our prayers along to his family."

Frances Thomas Williams died Monday at age 86 in Meridian, Miss.

She was the grandmother of Peyton and Eli Manning, the New York Giants quarterback, and the mother-in-law of former New Orleans Saints quarterback Archie Manning.

Dungy said Peyton Manning might return to practice Thursday, the Colts last scheduled workout before taking the weekend off for their bye week.

"If not tomorrow, he'll be back Monday," Dungy said.

It's the second time in less than a month that a relative of a Colts player has died. In late September, Reggie Wayne 's older brother, Rashad, was killed in a traffic accident in Louisiana. The Colts sent a small delegation of players, coaches and team officials to Rashad Wayne's funeral Oct. 3.

Freeney, a three-time Pro Bowler and former NFL sacks champion, was at the team complex, Dungy said, but skipped the workout to try and get healthy. Last week, the Colts listed him with a shoulder injury; the previous week, he was listed with a buttocks injury.

Dungy called it a precautionary move since the Colts don't play again until Oct. 22.

"We had some guys who weren't going to practice, mainly the guys with leg injuries," he said. "They stayed inside, and it was nothing out of the ordinary except for Peyton."

There was some good news for the Colts.

Dungy said he expected Sanders, who made it to his first Pro Bowl last year, to return next week. Sanders has not practiced or played since injuring his knee in Week 2 against Houston and then undergoing arthroscopic surgery.

"We're hoping to have him back Monday," Dungy said.

Indy also may be looking for a new defensive tackle now that former Pro Bowl tackle Corey Simon has been lost for the season with an undisclosed illness.

Dungy even joked about possible replacements, running through a series of former NFL stars he said were on his wish list.

"I talked to Joe Greene and he had hip surgery, so he's not available," Dungy said. "I talked with Bob Lilly and Randy White and none of them jumped at our offer. ... I'd bet Joe (Klecko) would come back to play with his son. So if you see Joe in the parking lot Monday, it may be for more than just a visit with his son."

The Colts signed defensive tackle Dan Klecko, the son of the former New York Jets defensive lineman, just before the start of the season.

Seriously, though, Dungy acknowledged the Colts were looking at other defensive linemen to help reinforce the run defense but that an immediate move was not likely.

"We're just standing pat for now, so we've got to get this fixed with the guys we have in here," he said.

The Colts also waived kicker Martin Gramatica with the expectation Adam Vinatieri, the NFL's best clutch kicker, could return after the bye week.

Vinatieri has missed the last three games with an injured right groin. If Vinatieri cannot play, Dungy said the Colts were likely to re-sign Gramatica.

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