Colts’ Andrew Luck: forever indebted to coach Pagano

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 31: Head coach Chuck Pagano of the Indianapolis Colts talks with Andrew Luck #12 prior to the game against the Houston Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 31, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Andrew Luck isn’t apprehensive regarding the uncertainty hovering over the Indianapolis Colts, he’s eager to see what it brings.

The franchise’s most indispensable player reacted Monday to the firing of coach Chuck Pagano and the subsequent ripples that loom, all the while looking ahead with optimism.

“At the end of every NFL season there’s change,’’ Luck told Colts.com. “We know this is professional sports. Guys are also excited to see what the new year brings.’’

That certainly includes Luck’s status. He returned from the Netherlands last week where he underwent a six-week rehab session with a personal trainer on his right shoulder. He’s expected to resume throwing soon.

On a team level, the Colts must rebound from their 4-12 finish. They failed to make the playoffs in a third straight season for the first time in nearly a quarter century.

“Hope springs eternal,’’ Luck said. “I’m excited for the new year, excited to be healthy, excited for the guys. There was so much fight this year from all the guys.

“Was very proud to say I was still a Colt and watch those guys represent.’’

The Colts already have begun their search to replace Pagano. They’ve asked permission to talk with New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks.

Luck was asked the qualities he values in a head coach.

“Trust, loyalty and respect are the pillars of the horseshoe,’’ he said. “I’m sure Chris Ballard will do a great job of getting the right guy here.’’

Luck’s NFL career began in 2012 and coincided with Pagano’s arrival as head coach. The connection grew tight and obviously will remain.

“I’ll be forever indebted to coach Pagano,’’ he said. “He’s been an incredible leader, an incredible friend. We’ve shared a lot of good memories, some not so good memories.

“I feel fortunate to count him as a friend and count him as someone in my life. I know he’s going to be successful whatever he is next. Very thankful, very fortunate to have spent these last six years with him.’’

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