By Larry Hawley
2:49 PM EDT, September 26, 2011
For a backup quarterback, he's managed to find himself in the middle of a few major Colts stories.
He was the one brough in when the starters rested in 2009, when health of players was viewed as a bigger prize than a 16-0 season.
Over the past three months, his abilities have been criticized and scrutinized as Peyton Manning's chances to play in 2011 went down.
Now on Monday, Curtis Painter stood in front of his locker in front of a group of media in the midst of two major developments in 12 hours. He was forced into action in Sunday night's 23-20 loss to the Steelers after Kerry Collins had concussion like symptoms.
The Monday morning, news came from Jim Irsay that Peyton Manning might be out for the season before he backtracked on Twitter.
"Not sure,really not sure," said Painter when asked what the next week might hold-and it could be a lot.
Should Collins' concussion be serious enough-or the Colts decide a change in necessary to energize a struggling offense-Painter could make his first NFL start Monday night at Tampa Bay.
"I'll kinda know in the next couple of days, just kinda go with how things have been so far and just keep rolling," said Painter.
In his first major playing time since late in the 2009 season, Painter had an up-and-down quarter-and-a-half. He missed a wide open Pierre Garcon on a deep route during his first series and then had the ball knocked out on a blind side sack by James Harrison, which was returned by Troy Polamalu for a touchdown.
Painter recovered on the following series, however, leading the team 80-yards down the field for a score to tie the game briefly at 20.
"Some things to fix, but we'll keep on going," said Painter of his performance.
In the end he was 5-of-11 for 60 yards without a touchdown or an interception, but it was the last series that stuck in the mind of head coach Jim Caldwell the most.
"Well I think after he got going there, obviously the one series where there was a sack fumble, he got hit from behind, but after that he came back and did a nice job," said Caldwell of Painter. "He moved the ball well, made some nice throws and certainly managed the game well.
"He was able to take us down 80 yards and get that thing in the endzone which was a heck of a drive so I think he did pretty well, particularly not having many reps in preparation for the game."
That figures to chance this week as Collins continues to be evaluated for a concussion. The veteran was 13-of-29 for 93 yards in his playing time, and the lack of production with him in there has some calling for Painter to start next Monday regardless of injury.
Caldwell says he's in no hurry to make a decision on the quarterback spot, choosing to take his time during the long week of preparation.
"We look at the complete body of work and make a determination about it and then move on from there," said Caldwell on a decision on the quarterback spot. "Now we certainly were not going to make a determination here in the next couple of days because we do have an extra day.
"But we'll see exactly how it all unfolds and we'll make a decision once we get ready to start preparation."