Side­lined QB Luck: Shoul­der on mend

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - COLLEGE FOOTBALL / NFL -

IN­DI­ANAPO­LIS — An­drew Luck tried to ease all doubts about his sur­gi­cally re­paired right shoul­der Sat­ur­day.

For the first time in six NFL sea­sons, Luck will not suit up when his team­mates hold their first train­ing camp prac­tice to­day. In­stead, he’ll con­tinue coach­ing them in meet­ings and from the side­line, just like he’s done for months.

“It does feel dif­fer­ent than it did last year,” Luck said. “I still have a ways to go in terms of re­gain­ing the strength, but I know every day it’s im­prov­ing. I can see the light at the end of the tun­nel.”

That’s about the best up­date Coach Chuck Pagano could have re­ceived when play­ers re­ported to the team com­plex.

Gen­eral Man­ager Chris Bal­lard an­nounced Mon­day that Indy’s fran­chise quar­ter­back would go on the phys­i­cally un­able to per­form list, although he re­mains hope­ful Luck will start the Sept. 10 sea­son opener at Los An­ge­les.

Colts’ fans, mean­while, have de­vel­oped a grow­ing sense of un­ease.

Since 1998, Luck and Pey­ton Man­ning have started 303 of Indy’s 329 games, in­clud­ing the play­offs. Only two other times dur­ing that span was there a se­ri­ous ques­tion about Indy’s start­ing quar­ter­back head­ing into camp.

In 2008, Man­ning went on PUP with an in­fected bursa sac. He re­cov­ered in time to start the sea­son opener and led the Colts to the play­offs as a wild-card team.

Man­ning also went on PUP in 2011 af­ter hav­ing off­sea­son neck surgery and missed the en­tire sea­son. The re­sult: Indy lost its first 13 games, won the Luck sweep­stakes by get­ting the No. 1 pick, and Man­ning was re­leased dur­ing the off­sea­son.

Bal­lard said Luck be­gan throw­ing last week. On Sat­ur­day, Luck told re­porters he started by throw­ing a ten­nis ball but would not say whether he is throw­ing a foot­ball yet.

Nei­ther the team nor Luck has es­tab­lished a timetable for his re­turn, giv­ing Luck only six weeks to re­build his strength, re­gain his throw­ing mo­tion and get in foot­ball shape be­fore the games count.

“We’re not go­ing to rush it just to rush it,” Luck said. “I have not felt an un­due pres­sure to do some­thing that would not be in my best in­ter­ests.”

Indy has three other quar­ter­backs on the ros­ter — backup Scott Tolzien, prac­tice squad reg­u­lar Stephen Mor­ris and un­drafted rookie Phillip Walker out of Tem­ple. Bal­lard has said he does not an­tic­i­pate sign­ing a veteran free agent.

And no­body is say­ing ex­actly how the snaps will be divvied up dur­ing Luck’s ab­sence.

“The more the bet­ter,” of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Rob Chudzin­ski said. “Cer­tainly the way we played this spring and last sea­son, Scott got a lot of reps backup quar­ter­backs don’t nor­mally get, and that has been a good thing.”

The ques­tions sur­round­ing Luck over­shad­owed ev­ery­thing else oc­cur­ring on the first day of camp.

De­fen­sive tackle David Parry apol­o­gized for be­ing ar­rested in Scotts­dale, Ariz., in Fe­bru­ary. He was sen­tenced to two years of pro­ba­tion in May af­ter plead­ing guilty to re­duced charges from an in­ci­dent in which he al­legedly as­saulted the driver of a street-le­gal mo­tor­ized cart, then steal­ing and crash­ing the ve­hi­cle.

But the fo­cus will con­tinue to be on Luck and his ex­pected re­turn.

“I’ll be bet­ter com­ing out of it [surgery] than I was go­ing into it. I know that, so there’s no rea­son to freak out,” Luck said. “The men­tal part of it [the re­cov­ery] was not fun and is not easy. It’s tested my pa­tience and, at times, I know I can be un­pleas­ant to be around for the guys I work with eight or nine hours a day. But I do think be­cause of the men­tal test, we’ll call it, the phys­i­cal test, I will be bet­ter.”


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