INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – One Andrew Luck-related question has been answered, but another hangs in the air.
The Indianapolis Colts’ most indispensable player began throwing last week as part of his rehabilitation from January surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder.
Luck will open training camp on the NFL’s physically unable to perform (PUP) list – veterans report Saturday and practice for the first time Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium – but the expectation is he’ll be cleared for practice at some point.
“Andrew’s got to work on getting his throwing motion back, all his strength back,’’ general manager Chris Ballard said Monday. “All of that is just part of the process that both his doctor and our trainers have set for him.
“We’re exactly where I thought we were going to be at this time. He’s not had any setbacks at all. His weight’s up. He’s starting to get all his strength back. It just takes time.’’
Left unanswered, though, is when will the process the team has strictly adhered to throughout the offseason allow him to actually practice, then play?
The Colts open the preseason Aug. 13 against the Detroit Lions at Lucas Oil Stadium. They open the regular season Sept. 10 against the Rams in Los Angeles.
No one should be surprised if Luck sits out the four-game preseason.
However, it would be a shocker if, barring a setback, he isn’t under center against the Rams.
“I’m comfortable when our doctors clear him and say he’s ready to play . . . whether that means he plays in preseason, doesn’t play in preseason,’’ Ballard said.
Priority one, he added, is sticking to the process that’s gotten Luck to this point.
“I don’t worry about when he plays and where he plays,’’ Ballard said. “Our concern – look, we’re all on the same page on this – is what’s the next step? To me the next step is getting him to practice. Once we get to practice, then the next step will be games.
“Right now the focus is on just each step.’’
Is Luck starting Sept. 10 part of that process?
“Just going to get to practice is where our focus is right now,’’ Ballard said.
Luck is heading into his sixth year and coming off one of his most efficient seasons. He passed for 4,240 yards and 31 touchdowns while suffering 13 interceptions, and set career bests by completing 63.5 percent of his passes and averaging 7.78 yards per attempt.
But he also is coming off another season that saw him beaten and battered. He was sacked 41 times, missed the loss to Pittsburgh with a concussion and was less than a full participant in half of the team’s 48 weekly practices due to injuries to his right shoulder, right elbow, right thumb, left ankle and the concussion. That came on the heels of Luck missing nine games in 2015 with a variety of injuries, including a lacerated kidney.
Now, Luck has gone more than six months between his last pass – a game-winning 1-yard TD to Jack Doyle against Jacksonville Jan. 1 – and last week’s start-up throws.
How much time will be required for him to get up to speed?
“Andrew’s a vet. He knows how to play,’’ Ballard said. “I think Andrew will tell you he’d like to be out here practicing every day, throwing to his wideouts.
“It’s just not the situation we’re in right now. When we do move forward with Andrew and decide it’s time to get ready to go, he will have gone through the process completely. He’ll be ready to go and perform at a good level.’’
More health matters:
Clayton Geathers will open the regular season on PUP which means the veteran safety will miss at least the first six games. He underwent offseason surgery to address a herniated disc in his neck.
“A lot of this with Geathers is just a healing process,’’ Ballard said. “He’s in a good frame mentally. He’s done everything from a rehab standpoint.
“Once we get into September and October it will really be ramping up for him.’’
Along with Luck, the Colts will open camp with defensive end Kendall Langford (knee) and guard Brian Schwenke (ankle) on PUP.
The rookies reported for camp on Saturday and rookie safety Malik Hooker was cleared for practice. The first-round draft pick was held out of all of the team’s offseason work after undergoing surgery following his final season at Ohio State.