Andrew Luck able to practice but ruled out for Colts’ opener
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INDIANAPOLIS — Andrew Luck is entering a new phase of the waiting game.
Now that he’s cleared to practice, he must convince team officials he’s ready to start. It won’t happen this week.
Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard announced Monday that Luck would miss Indy’s season opener against the Los Angeles Rams and would remain out indefinitely.
“Every player needs to practice,” Ballard said. “They need to be with their teammates. They need to practice. Andrew’s going to need the same thing.”
Luck hasn’t taken a snap or thrown to a teammate since having January surgery to repair a partially torn labrum in his throwing shoulder.
He rehabbed during all of the Colts’ offseason workouts and spent all of training camp and the preseason on the physically unable to perform list. He was finally activated Saturday.
Initially, it doesn’t sound like much will change. Coach Chuck Pagano said Luck’s practice regimen will be “rehabbing.”
While Ballard avoided setting a timetable for Luck’s return to the lineup, it seems likely Indy’s franchise quarterback could return sooner than the six to eight weeks he would have missed had the Colts opened up a roster spot by keeping him on PUP.
For now, veteran backup Scott Tolzien inherits the starting job. He’s 0-2-1 as an NFL starter, including a loss last November against Pittsburgh.
Meanwhile, new quarterback Jacoby Brissett must spend this week cramming after being acquired in a trade Saturday from New England. The Colts sent receiver Phillip Dorsett, their 2015 first-round draft pick, to the Patriots.
Indy cut its other backup, Stephen Morris, before bringing back undrafted rookie Phillip Walker to the practice squad.
But getting Brissett up to speed and Luck back on the field could complicate this work week, and future ones.
Brissett needs snaps to get acclimated with new teammates and a new playbook, and Luck needs snaps to get back into football shape. Pagano, meanwhile, plans to give Tolzien the bulk of the work — as long as he remains No. 1 on the depth chart.
“We’ll manage that thing, but the starter’s got to get the lion’s share obviously,” Pagano said. “We’ll get a package together (for Brissett) in case something happens. He’s got to be ready because I don’t know who goes in after that.”
The bigger questions surround Luck, who hasn’t fielded queries since players reported to training camp July 29 and isn’t expected to talk until later this week.
Luck has been dealing with a right shoulder injury since the third game of the 2015 season when he was injured during a comeback win at Tennessee. Luck missed nine games that year, the last seven with a lacerated kidney. After the season, he chose not to have surgery.
The shoulder problems lingered throughout last season even though Indy gave Luck an extra day off each week. Somehow, Luck managed to produce arguably his best statistical season as a pro — completing a career-high 63.5 percent, throwing for 4,240 yards and 31 TDs while throwing just 13 interceptions in 15 games. He missed one game while being in the concussion protocol.
Luck first started throwing, with a tennis ball, the week before training camp opened. Since then, he’s been mostly out of sight.
Ballard, unlike Pagano, said he has seen Luck throwing. But Ballard did not provide an evaluation or a target date for when Luck may finally suit up.
“I’m being a little extra conservative,” Ballard said. “We want to make sure when we get Andrew back, he can practice every day. We don’t want to jeopardize a little short-term (gain) here over the long haul.”