Luck throwing again, but target return date still unclear
INDIANAPOLIS — Andrew Luck feels good enough to throw some passes. He is still not healthy enough to return to practice yet.
On Wednesday, Luck said he has cleared one more hurdle in his recovery from a lacerated kidney and a partially torn abdominal muscle and that he’s eager to get back on the field.
"It’s been a fair, intense amount of throwing, I’d say," Luck said, acknowledging he’s so far been pain free.
What remains unclear is how much more time he could miss.
Luck was injured after taking awkward hits from two different directions late in a Nov. 8 victory over Denver. Two days later, coach Chuck Pagano said Luck would be out two to six weeks and he would be evaluated each week.
Since then, the Colts (6-5) have turned to 40-year-old Matt Hasselbeck, who has won all four of his starts and turned in three turnover-free performances while filling in for Luck this season. Luck missed two games earlier this season with an injured throwing shoulder and is expected to miss his third straight game Sunday night at Pittsburgh (6-5).
Pagano has already said Luck would reclaim the starting job once he’s cleared by team doctors — once he is 100 percent healthy.
How close is he?
"I have seen him throw, I have caught a little bit from him," tight end Dwayne Allen said. "I believe he’s not in pads, not fully moving around. But from what I’ve seen, he has a good throwing motion."
Two weeks ago, Luck didn’t even speak with reporters during locker room access. Last week, in his first public comments since the diagnosis, Luck acknowledged his rehab work was increasing. That was followed by Wednesday’s update.
But nobody wants to rush Luck back. Before he does return, Luck believes he will need a clear scan on his kidney and then will have to show trainers, doctors and coaches he’s ready to play.
"I feel fine," he said. "It’s different. It’s not an ankle. It’s not a muscle."
Other factors could come into play, too.
After facing blitz-happy Pittsburgh this weekend, Indianapolis must contend with the up-and-coming Jacksonville defense before hosting J.J. Watt and the Texans. The Colts close out the season at Miami and home against Tennessee.
Indy could be even more cautious with Luck’s return if left tackle Anthony Castonzo is still out with an injured right knee. He’s listed as week to week with a sprained medial collateral ligament.
The Colts adapted last weekend by moving right tackle Joe Reitz into Castonzo’s old spot and plugging seventh-round draft pick Denzelle Good in at right tackle. Good played reasonably well in his NFL debut but the revamped line allowed three sacks, seven tackles for loss and 11 quarterback hits while the Colts averaged 1.04 yards per carry. Castonzo, like Luck, did not practice Wednesday.
As long as Hasselbeck stays healthy and continues playing like a quarterback half his age, Luck can take his time healing — even if his competitive nature is pushing him to do more than just a little throwing.
"It is a bit (hard), but at the same time, it is what it is," he said. "I’m not losing sleep over it or having a poor attitude about it. That doesn’t help anybody, including myself."
Notes: Indy is hoping safety Mike Adams (left ankle) will finally return to the practice field Thursday. … Rookie receiver Phillip Dorsett (lower leg), linebackers Jerrell Freeman (hamstring) and Erik Walden (heel) and right guard Hugh Thornton (elbow) all missed Wednesday’s practice. Veterans Trent Cole, Vontae Davis, Frank Gore, Andre Johnson and Robert Mathis were all given an extra day of rest. … Allen was named the Colts’ Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award nominee this week. … Indy also added offensive tackle Pierce Burton to the practice squad after releasing offensive tackle John Wetzel from the practice squad.