FOXBORO -- As if the Indianapolis Colts didn't appreciate Peyton Manning already.
Everyone knows just how good he is. And so far this season, everyone knows just how bad the Colts are without him.
Just ask Indianapolis center Jeff Saturday.
"It definitely makes me appreciate winning more," said Saturday in a conference call on Wednesday. "But Peyton, obviously man, you can't respect a player more than I respect him anyway. So, I've been with the guy 13 years. I know how hard he works. I know what a good player he is, and how valuable he is to our football team.
"On top of all that, to see a player face this type of injury, this isn't something you get over in a week or two. This has been a major process. And so, anytime you're watching a player goes through something as substantial as this, your heart goes out to him. This is the way God created us, to play this game. And he loves playing it, and he couldn't have more fun doing it. I feel for him in that regard, as much as a teammate."
The Colts enter Sunday's game in New England with an 0-11 record. It was supposed to be the Sunday night game of the week. Instead, it was flexed out to a local 1 p.m. start time.
Not because of the Patriots, of course. But because of, well, Curtis Painter.
It's made for a season that, without Manning, has been awfully tough to deal with.
"We've had a number of vets, myself included, who have encouraged the guys to understand that, you're putting your resume out there every time you walk on that field," said Saturday. "And every time you take this role, you better be playing as good football as you possibly can. That's what a professional does. Pros stand up, even when it's the worst times.
"And that's what we're in. We haven't won a game. We've done a lot to ourselves to hurt ourselves, with making mistakes, and we take full responsibility for that. Nobody in this league feels sorry for you. Nobody's going to help you get better. You've got to go out there and put forth an effort to win a football game. And that's what we're hoping we do."
Chances are, that won't happen on Sunday at Gillette Stadium.
The bigger question is, will it happen at all this season? Will the Colts win a game? And it's also apparent that an even bigger question is, will Manning return this season, which he's been reportedly wanting to do, if medically cleared.
"I sure hope so," said Saturday. "People ask me over and over. If he's healthy enough, he'll be on the field. I can guarantee you that. Records, put all that stuff aside. Because we all, every player in this game, we're made to play on Sundays. And so, if he's healthy enough, I think he'll be out there ready to rock and roll."