The Washington Times-Herald

Sports

August 3, 2009

Manning adjusting to life without Harrison

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (AP) — Peyton Manning was back on the practice field Monday. His longtime sidekick, Marvin Harrison, was nowhere near Colts’ camp.

Or the NFL.

For the first time in Manning’s 12 NFL seasons, he is starting camp without his right-hand man, a salary-cap casualty.

“It certainly is different, and it is certainly an adjustment,” the three-time league MVP said. “But it’s like coach (Jim) Caldwell said last night, you have to go with who’s here.”

The Colts do have a succession plan in place.

Three-time Pro Bowler Reggie Wayne, who has been lining up on the left side, officially replaces Harrison in the Colts’ receiving hierarchy. Anthony Gonzalez, a first-round pick in 2007, is expected to take over as the No. 2 receiver in Harrison’s old spot on the right side. The battle for No. 3 will likely come down to Pierre Garcon, Roy Hall and rookie Austin Collie, a fourth-round draft pick.

Wayne has been preparing for this transition for years and has steadily earned Manning’s confidence. In 2007, Wayne caught 104 passes for 1,510 yards, both career-highs, when Harrison missed most of the season with a knee injury.

Gonzalez, now in his third season, is ready to take the next step after fighting through injuries as a rookie and emerging as a consistent contributor in Year 2.

Yes, Manning likes the talent he has on the field. It’s just odd not seeing No. 88 at practice.

“I think it will probably sink in even more, probably the most when we play that first preseason game against Minnesota, because that’s really all that I’ve ever known,” Manning said.

For more than a decade the two were inseparable.

They combined for more completions, more yardage and more touchdowns than any passing duo in league history. When they broke the record for touchdowns by a quarterback-receiver tandem, Manning even suggested they cut the ball in half.

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