INDIANAPOLIS — Josh Freeman spent his first two pro seasons showcasing his franchise quarterback skills.
He spent the next three fighting to hang on in Tampa Bay and Minnesota. Now, after spending two years out of the league, Freeman is getting another chance to prove himself.
The former Bucs first-round pick signed Tuesday with the quarterback-needy Colts. By Sunday, he could be making his first NFL start in 26 months.
"I've been contemplating a lot of different options," Freeman, 27, said. "I was with the Dolphins in the offseason and in training camp and got released at the end of that. But I kind of said to myself, 'I'm a football player and I still have a lot to give this game.' "
With their faint playoff hopes and their coach's job possibly on the line Sunday against the Titans, the Colts have been dealt a tough hand.
Coach Chuck Pagano confirmed Wednesday that starting quarterback Andrew Luck will miss his seventh straight game with a lacerated kidney and a partially torn abdominal muscle. Third-stringer Charlie Whitehurst was already out after landing on injured reserve Monday with a bad hamstring.
EAGLES AFTERMATH: A day after firing coach Chip Kelly, CEO Jeffrey Lurie made it clear he wants a coach who can relate to his players and everyone else. "You've got to open your heart to players and everybody you want to achieve peak performance," Lurie said. "I would call it a style of leadership that values information and all of the resources that are provided and at the same time values emotional intelligence. I think in today's world, a combination of all those factors creates the best chance to succeed."
BECKHAM CONTRITE: Giants receiver Odell Beckham isn't changing the way he plays, just the actions that led to his recent one-game suspension for multiple violations of safety-related playing rules. Beckham, who returned to practice for the first time since being suspended for his actions on Dec. 20, said it was tough being away from his teammates. He refused to comment on his suspension, saying he simply abided by the ruling.
WR SMITH TO RETURN: Ravens receiver Steve Smith, 36, announced on Twitter that his plans for next year include "making a comeback, returning to the Baltimore Ravens ready to play football in 2016." The 15-year veteran said in August that this would be his final year in the NFL, but his season ended Nov. 1 when he tore his right Achilles tendon.
LYNCH OUT: Running back Marshawn Lynch has yet to rejoin the Seahawks after having abdominal surgery in late November and will not play in the regular-season finale.
MANNING HEALING: Peyton Manning will be active Sunday and serve as Brock Osweiler's backup when the Broncos try to secure their fifth straight AFC West title. Coach Gary Kubiak said Manning has made enough progress from his foot injury to return to practice. Manning's last full practice was Nov. 13.
MANZIEL HURT: Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel, who took several hard hits while rushing for 108 yards against the Chiefs, was placed in the NFL's concussion protocol and will likely sit out Sunday's season finale.
OBITUARY: Doug Atkins, a defensive lineman who earned induction into both the Pro Football Hall of Fame and College Football Hall of Fame, died at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center in Knoxville, Tenn. He was 85. Mr. Atkins was a four-time all-NFL selection who made eight Pro Bowl appearances during a 17-year career.
STADIUM PITCH: San Diego city and county officials made their final pitch to the NFL in what has been a contentious effort to keep the Chargers from moving to the Los Angeles area.
BEARS: Receiver Alshon Jeffery will miss Sunday's season finale because of a hamstring injury.
BENGALS: Quarterback AJ McCarron used his left hand during a light practice, an indication that he won't be limited much by a sore wrist on his nonthrowing arm and should play in the regular-season finale.
BILLS: Running back LeSean McCoy is not expected to play in Sunday's season finale because of a right knee injury, coach Rex Ryan said.
COWBOYS: Receiver Dez Bryant will miss Sunday's finale and is likely to have another procedure on the right foot he broke in the season opener.
FALCONS: Receiver Roddy White said he plans to retire as a career Falcon and to still be in uniform when the team's new stadium opens in two years. The four-time Pro Bowler, 34, hasn't been used much in the team's first season under offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan.
TEXANS: Quarterback Brian Hoyer is out of the NFL's concussion protocol and will start Sunday against the Jaguars.
TITANS: Rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota won't play in the season finale because of a sprained right knee.