Irsay: Healthy Manning will be a Colt in '12

Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay said on NFL Network prior to the Colts' 19-16 victory over the Houston Texans that Peyton Manning will be in Indy next season if he health allows him to play.

"I think the situation is if he's back and he's healthy, I see him coming back and playing here," Irsay said just before the start of Thursday night's game. "I think the hope is that his health is in the position where he could return again. That remains uncertain and that's something that's first and foremost on my mind."

The Colts, who may have played themselves out of the first overall pick and the Andrew Luck sweepstakes with their second straight victory Thursday night, will owe Manning a $28 million roster bonus in March, just before the league year begins. There has been speculation that the Colts might release Manning or try to trade him and cast their lot with Luck, the Stanford prospect.

"I don't see that being an issue," Irsay said. "I paid him $26 million this season and he didn't play and I knew it was an iffy situation. If he's healthy and he can play, he'll be back here."

The Colts had been the runaway leader in the race for the first pick, but have now topped AFC South rivals Tennessee and Houston within the past five days, leaving them now in a race with the Vikings and Rams for the first pick, who also have two wins, but two games left to play.

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Terry McCormick covers the Titans for

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