However, the eccentric owner also said that #12 has to play smarter and can’t put himself in harm’s way unnecessarily anymore in order to maintain that health going forward:
Sep 18, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) runs in the backfield with the ball in the third quarter against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
“He (Luck) can throw it 70 yards. He’s ready to play,” said Irsay on Saturday during an NFL pep rally ahead of his team’s game in London. “I’m more concerned about him, and him and I have talked about how he has to protect the football and protect himself.”
Specifically, Irsay referenced Luck’s interception against the Denver Broncos in Week 2 of this season that was returned 46 yards for a touchdown the other way by cornerback Aqib Talib early in the 4th quarter–with Luck diving at Talib with reckless abandonment on a failed tackle attempt:
“Look, he (Luck) throws the interception, it’s tough, he’s mad. I know. But no Ray Lewis tackles. Do what Peyton (Manning) did. You do a little foxtrot, you don’t embarrass yourself, you push a few guys, but you stay out of the fray. You don’t see Aaron Rodgers (and) you didn’t see Peyton get involved in those type of frays. That’s when tough things happen.”
If you care to see the play itself, you can see Luck dive at Talib during the latter’s interception return–only to have starting left tackle Anthony Castonzo ultimately fall on him:
Irsay added that Luck has to cut down on the unnecessary physical contact plays because he’s not necessarily that 22 year old kid at Stanford anymore laying out college players. After all, the NFL is a different animal all together, with some of the biggest, strongest, and fastest players in all of professional sports with defensive players who can really hit–and hit hard at that.
Dec 21, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys safety J.J. Wilcox (27) runs with the ball after a interception against Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Luck is also 27 years old now, so he may not as readily bounce back from those aches and bruises as quickly from such excessive physicality:
“He has to change the way he plays only because he is not a 22-year old kid at Stanford who could play tight end or quarterback,” said Irsay on Luck’s Stanford playing days and better protecting his body. “He has to understand, and he learned from the Denver game the importance of what it means to stay on the field. Honing his game is the key. There isn’t some kind of chronic shoulder injury or anything like that. I promise you. There are no surgeries planned. He is fine, and the shoulder is something that just disappears into the woodwork when he wins his next MVP or when we win a Super Bowl.”
Nevertheless, it’s encouraging news to hear that Luck isn’t dealing with any long-term shoulder condition. It would make sense too given that the Colts just willingly invested 6-years and $140 million into that same right throwing shoulder–making Luck the highest paid player in NFL history.
Sep 25, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) throws to a receiver during their game against the San Diego Chargers at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports
So far, Luck hasn’t really shown any lingering effects of a shoulder injury, as the superstar quarterback has thrown for 6 touchdowns to 2 interceptions, 913 passing yards, and a passer rating of 93.2.
As such, it appears that Luck’s shoulder is in fact fine
However, by playing smarter and keeping the excessive physical contact plays to a minimum–which to Luck’s credit he has slid more this season, the Colts quarterback could ensure that this remains the case going forward as well–ultimately prolonging his NFL career.