The Herald Bulletin

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April 17, 2013

Colts Notebook: Vinatieri expects warm welcome for Manning

INDIANAPOLIS — The 2013 NFL schedule will be released Thursday night, and Peyton Manning’s trip to Lucas Oil Stadium with the Denver Broncos figures to be one of the most highly anticipated matchups.

Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri has some idea of what Manning can expect.

He made a return to Foxboro, Mass., with Indianapolis in 2006 after winning three Super Bowls with the New England Patriots. The Colts won 27-20 on that November day, and Vinatieri was booed heavily throughout the contest.

He expects Manning to receive a different reaction this fall.

“I think it’s probably a little bit different of an atmosphere,” Vinatieri said Wednesday in the locker room at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center. “No disrespect to any fans out there, but our fans are much more welcoming. I think that Peyton will probably get a whole lot more cheers than I did when I went back to New England.”

The Colts have welcomed back former franchise cornerstones such as running back Edgerrin James and center Jeff Saturday as opponents in recent years. The standard procedure has been to show a highlight video of the player’s Indianapolis career on the stadium’s video screens during a timeout and allow the crowd to show its appreciation.

Manning’s return, after 14 Hall of Fame-worthy seasons in the Circle City, is likely to go beyond the norm.

“I’m sure he’ll get a standing ovation right when he comes out. I would almost guarantee it,” Vinatieri said, adding it likely will feel odd for Manning to dress in the visiting locker room. “But, hopefully, after that, I know the fans still love him, but hopefully when he goes out there, they’re loud and make it hard on him. I’m sure it’ll be a lot of fun. That’ll be a pretty cool game for him and us and everybody involved.”

There has been speculation the contest could be tabbed for the season-opener of NBC’s top-rated “Sunday Night Football.” But the Broncos’ road slate is loaded with meaningful dates for Manning, including another chapter in his rivalry against Tom Brady and the Patriots and a third Brother Bowl against Eli Manning and the New York Giants.

“It would be an awful big draw if they did (schedule the game for Week 1), obviously,” Vinatieri said. “But it’s going to be a huge draw no matter what. I would expect it to be a Sunday night or a Monday night game. I would expect it to be a prime-time game. I’d be shocked if it wasn’t.”

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