Luck insists right shoulder will be better when he returns
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Andrew Luck tried to ease all doubts about his surgically-repaired right shoulder Saturday.
He'll have to return to the field to actually prove it - and nobody knows when that will be.
For the first time in six NFL seasons, Luck will not suit up when his teammates hold their first training camp practice Sunday. 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 though 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 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.
There are obvious reasons for concern.
Ballard said Luck began throwing last week. On Saturday, Luck told reporters that he starting by throwing a tennis ball but would not say whether is throwing a football yet.
Neither the team nor Luck has established a timetable for his return, giving Luck only six more 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.''
Pagano is scheduled to take questions Sunday.
Indy has three other quarterbacks on the roster - backup Scott Tolzien, practice squad regular Stephen Morris and undrafted rookie Phillip Walker. 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, Arizona, 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.
''I made some pretty big mistakes and I'm just blessed to be back here with that second chance,'' Parry said.
And cornerback Vontae Davis arrived in style to the first camp held at the team complex since the Colts moved to Indy in 1984. He was wearing a motorcycle helmet as he rode in on a three-wheel Polaris Slingshot, bringing back memories of the grand entrances previously made by Reggie Wayne and Edgerrin James.
''Someone had to do it,'' Davis joked.
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.''
Notes: First-round draft pick Malik Hooker was activated from PUP on Saturday. He was put on the list Tuesday after hurting his hamstring during a conditioning test. ... Indy put defensive end Kendall Langford (knee) and offensive lineman Brian Schwenke (left foot) on PUP, as Ballard had said they would.
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