All signs (waiving Stephen Morris) point to Andrew Luck returning for Colts

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Andrew Luck runs with the ball during the second half of the game against the Tennessee Titans at Lucas Oil Stadium on November 20, 2016 (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– Chuck Pagano offered no clarity Friday on Andrew Luck’s status for the Indianapolis Colts’ critical Monday night road test against the New York Jets.

However, a Thursday roster move spoke volumes.

While Luck, who suffered a concussion Nov. 20 against Tennessee, still must gain medical clearance from an independent neurologist Friday, the team’s optimism that was imminent was shown when it waived Stephen Morris the previous day.

With Morris no longer on the active roster – he was re-signed to the practice squad – the only quarterbacks on the roster are Luck and backup Scott Tolzien.

There’s virtually no chance the Colts would move forward with only a healthy Tolzien if they had any concerns with Luck being cleared in the final phase of the NFL’s concussion protocol. Safety Clayton Geathers also was scheduled to meet with an independent doctor Friday afternoon.

Pagano was vague when asked about several injured players, and that was especially true with Luck.

“Still going through the protocol,’’ Pagano replied when asked for an update on Luck. “Him and Clayton both will see an independent (neurologist) this afternoon and then get the report from that.

“But they’re both in the protocol. Geathers has a neck issue that’s being evaluated, separate from the concussion.’’

Was Pagano optimistic Luck will be cleared?

“I’m not a neurologist,’’ he said. “Can’t spell it, can barely say it.

“Again, they’ll see the independent (and) finish the protocol, then we’ll go from there.’’

Luck was upbeat after going through a full practice Wednesday. He was limited Thursday, but that has been his routine this season.

“No restrictions, felt great,’’ Luck said.

Monday he offered, “Feel great, 100 percent, ready to go.’’

 

Gore movin’ up: Frank Gore’s relentless march up the NFL’s career rushing chart has him bearing down on Tony Dorsett. He needs 30 yards in Monday night’s game against the Jets to move past Dorsett (12,739) into the No. 8 slot.

This from a 33-year-old running back who already this season has leap-frogged Thurman Thomas, Franco Harris, Marcus Allen, Edgerrin James, Marshall Faulk and Jim Brown on the all-time list. Of that group, only James isn’t in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

“He’s as natural of a runner as I’ve ever been around. A guy that just has great instincts and vision,’’ offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski said. “He sees cracks and creases happen before they even open up.

“Sometimes you watch tape and you’re like, ‘Why did he go over there?’ All of a sudden a hole opens up that he knew was going to open up. He has great feet. He can get in and out of the hole and burst.’’

The Colts have been prudent in the handling of their feature back. Gore’s averaging just 16 carries per game and has shouldered more than 20 only twice this season.

Gore is seeking to become the first Colts running back since Joseph Addai in 2007 to crack the 1,000-yard barrier, but he’ll need to pick up his pace. After being limited to season-low 28 yards on 15 carries against Pittsburgh, he’ sitting at 670 yards. To reach 1,000 for the ninth time in his 12-year career, Gore needs to average 66 yards over the final five games. He’s averaged 60.9 in the first 11.

“He’s amazing and for him to be doing it at the age he is (at) is amazing as well,’’ Chudzinski said.

How much longer might Gore play? He’s under contract through the 2017 season.

“I wouldn’t doubt him,’’ Chudzinski said. “I would never bet against Frank Gore.’’

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