Manning wants more info on changes

Updated: May 26, 2009, 10:29 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

INDIANAPOLIS -- All Peyton Manning has wanted from the Indianapolis Colts is a game plan. Though it's taken some time, the three-time MVP may have his wish.

The front office has been trying to determine how retired assistants Tom Moore and Howard Mudd will fit into this season's coaching plans. Manning, who usually toes the company line, said Tuesday that he would like a better understanding of what to expect.

"Somebody says one thing, then somebody else says another thing," he said after a minicamp workout. "I'm not sure everybody's on the same page in this building. I'm just trying to focus on playing quarterback well."

The truth is, the Colts haven't known a whole lot, either.

Moore and Mudd retired two weeks ago to avoid losing money under the NFL's revised pension plan. Last week, team owner Jim Irsay told The Indianapolis Star both would return as consultants.

Those details have been taking awhile to work out.

Larry Kennan, executive director of the NFL Coaches Association, admitted to ESPN senior analyst Chris Mortensen that he has been confused, too, but he got word late Tuesday afternoon that Moore and Mudd can now return to the Colts as consultants, but they are not eligible to go back into the pension plan for six months.

Kennan said clarification was provided by an attorney working on behalf of ERISA -- the Employment Retired Income Security Act, the government agency that regulates pension plans.

"As long as Howard and Tom pay their own taxes for the next six months, they can return to the Colts as paid consultants, I'd say effective right away, based on what the ERISA attorney just told me," Kennan said.

Kennan said last week the two assistants would have to wait six months before returning. Moore is the only coordinator Manning has played for in 11 seasons; Mudd is the Colts' longtime offensive line coach.

But the Colts haven't known if they'll really have to wait that long, or what responsibilities Moore and Mudd will assume when they return.

"It's still in negotiations and it's a situation beyond our control," new coach Jim Caldwell said earlier Tuesday. "At the same time, it will filter itself out at some point. I think what we have to do is focus in on what we can get done now."

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Manning is working on his job, but he would also like some answers.

"I can't tell you what's going on. I will say I don't think it's been the most properly communicated scenario around here," he said. "But we have learned to deal with change and have to be prepared to adjust."

Bill Polian, team president and general manager, told Mortensen on Tuesday: "Basically, Peyton is confused about the roles that Tom Moore and Howard Mudd will have in the future. My answer is, welcome to the club. We're confused, too. The people that are supposed to have answers still don't have answers. Whether we can bring them back, when we can bring them back, remains to be seen. We would love to have 'em back but we don't know in what capacity they will be allowed. It's still being researched."

Moore and Mudd have retired, expecting to collect their full lump sum payments due from their accrued pension program. They had not been cleared by the pension administrator to assume consultants' roles, said Polian, although he joked that there is even confusion over the identity of the pension administrator. An NFL spokesman said the league has no specific policy on the issue.

The Colts already have announced assistant head coach Clyde Christensen will assume play-calling duties and assistant line coach Pete Metzelaars will have the word "assistant" dropped from his title.

Indy veterans are content with those choices.

Manning said Christensen helped call plays in third-down and red zone situations last season, two categories in which the Colts had the league's No. 1 conversion rate in 2008.

Three-time Pro Bowl center Jeff Saturday also said his teammates along the line spoke with both Metzelaars and Mudd during games and practices last season, and because the focus this week is on strengthening and conditioning, Saturday hasn't seen much change yet.

"We've not really done anything anyway," he said. "We'd normally be meeting with Pete now, so it's not really affected us. What will happen, or what [the coaching staff] will look like, I don't know. But I'm sure Jim will make it very clear at some point."

The Colts are in the midst of perhaps their biggest transition since taking Manning with the No. 1 draft pick in 1998.

Besides losing Moore and Mudd, Caldwell has replaced the retired Tony Dungy and has hired new defensive and special-teams coordinators. It's the first time since Manning's rookie season the Colts have switched head coaches and both coordinators in the same season.

Manning also lost Marvin Harrison, the franchise's career receiving leader. He was released in a February salary-cap move.

But the most recent moves, losing Moore and Mudd, and the uncertainty of what's going to happen next have the organization looking for solutions.

"I wouldn't say I totally like the way it is right now. It's not normal not having a full coaching staff," he said. "I know we hired a couple of guys to come in, but these guys are learning.

"I think the communication has been pretty poor in my opinion. But that's what we're dealing with. The hard work is what's going on right now. That's what will carry us through."

Polian shot down the notion that the staff's inexperience is cause for concern with Metzelaars assuming his first full-time position as line coach, as well as Frank Winters joining as intern assistant line coach, Ron Johnson as intern receivers coach and Christensen moving from receivers to offensive coordinator.

"Pete Metzelaars did a terrific job last year when Howard had to miss almost three weeks when he needed knee replacement surgery and that was with some young [linemen] needing to play," Polian said. "We really see this as a transition. Clyde has been a coordinator and had a chance to be a coordinator again, plus our head coach [Jim Caldwell] is an offensive guy. We'd love to have Tom Moore and Howard Mudd around as consultants but we feel good about our offense."

Information from ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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