Irsay talks contract, Luck unveils new slide at practice
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Andrew Luck showed off one new move Wednesday night - the slide.
It could help him in a lot of ways.
After signing autographs and throwing his first passes at Lucas Oil Stadium in eight months, Luck drew the biggest roars from an estimated crowd of 10,000 when he actually slid to a stop.
And the man who enjoyed it most might have been team owner Jim Irsay, who is still working on a long-term deal with his franchise quarterback.
''It's progressing well. We've had really good conversations. There is nothing new to report, nothing imminent,'' Irsay said, describing the negotiations.
''I'm still hopeful that before training camp that we can get something done and I think both sides feel the sooner the better. Could it be done by the (July) 4th? It's possible but I'm not going to make that prediction right now.''
In March, Irsay said he was hopeful to have the deal done before the holiday, but has since backed off that timeline and instead referred to the start of training camp as the goal. Luck's rookie contract expires after this season.
Still, Irsay's words sounded almost as good to fans as the music blaring inside Lucas Oil Stadium - or the sight of Luck wearing a football helmet on his home turf for the first time since he took a bone-jarring hit while running toward the sideline in early November.
Instead of going down, Luck took on one defender and was bent over awkwardly by a second Denver defender which left him with a lacerated kidney and partially torn abdominal muscle. The injuries kept him out of the final seven games.
This time, in a non-contact drill without pads, Luck proved he's learned a few things during his eight-month wait.
''I think everybody is pretty fired up to see he knows how to slide,'' coach Chuck Pagano joked.
It was a perfect night for Luck's return to the public spotlight.
The warm weather and sunny skies prompted team officials to open the roof as the Colts held their annual pick-a-seat night on the second-to-last practice before training camp and many stuck around for the movie night that followed.
In between, fans got to see their favorite players up close and personal and 89 players attended the workout. The only absentee was cornerback D'Joun Smith, a third-round pick in 2015 who missed 12 games because of injuries. Pagano acknowledged Wednesday evening that Smith has had a ''setback'' in his recovery from a knee injury.
A handful of other injured players, including defensive lineman Art Jones and receiver Donte Moncrief did not practice.
For some, such as rookie center Ryan Kelly, Indy's first-round draft pick, it was their first glimpse at their new home field and a preview of what can be expected in training camp.
For others, such as starting safety Mike Adams, it was a nice, simple break.
''It felt good out here, all the pain goes away,'' he said. ''It felt good with the fans here.''
Irsay's appearance and Luck's slide also changed the tenor of what was supposed to be the feel-good practice of the summer.
While Luck did not speak after practice, he is scheduled to take questions Thursday.
Irsay had plenty to say as he watched from the sideline. He has long acknowledged that Luck's deal will be expensive and probably record-breaking, he said Wednesday the only real issue has been structuring the deal and how to make it salary cap friendly.
But Irsay didn't sound frustrated. He joked that Tuesday, Luck mentioned he liked the owner's sunglasses and Irsay asked if he wanted those, too.
''It comes down to the debates in the negotiations of years, total number, total guarantees and all those sorts of things and obviously how it relates to the cap,'' he said. ''I haven't seen anything that has just been a problem that is going to hold it up.''
He added: ''I would be surprised if we don't have something done before training camp.''
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