INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – In Andrew Luck’s on-going Spring of Calf Management – and we’re not talking the cutesy farm animal variety – there are a few issues that must be driven home lest everyone freak out.
First, the driving force behind an entire franchise is as certain as humanly possible the strained calf that will keep him out of the entirety of the Indianapolis Colts’ on-field offseason work won’t be an issue when things really matter late next month.
“I’ll be ready for training camp and the early-report date,’’ Luck said Tuesday.
The team has yet to announce its camp schedule, but it’s believed players will report to Grand Park Sports Campus in the July 23-24-25 range.
Luck’s readiness for camp, insisted Frank Reich, is “a no-brainer. You can always re-aggravate something, I suppose. Barring anything crazy, in my mind it’s more of a no-brainer.’’
Next, the calf injury probably was a tad more serious than everyone originally anticipated. It initially was considered a week-to-week issue, but has eaten up all of the team’s offseason activities.
“Within the calf-strain injury,’’ Reich said, “I would say it’s on the longer side (for rehab).’’
“I aggravated it training and things can be stubborn sometimes,’’ he said. “I certainly don’t feel as young as I once did. It’s also certainly being conservative with things. It’s one of those things I learned going through my shoulder.
“I certainly did not expect (to be out this long). But there’s a lot less anxiety in my life about it than I had in the past with certain things.’’
Finally, even though the balky calf has kept Luck from practicing with his teammates – the first of three mandatory minicamp sessions unfolded Tuesday – he still has been able to keep his right arm/shoulder limbered up.
That’s in stark contrast to this time last year when Luck’s graduated throwing rehab from surgery on his right shoulder had advanced to the point he was casually tossing around an undersized football on the first day of minicamp.
Remember owner Jim Irsay’s giddiness as he watched Luck lob passes?
“Excited to see Andrew playing football,’’ he said last spring. “It’s a great day in Colts Nation, that’s for sure.’’
That type of enthusiasm was missing Tuesday – of course – but there still was some level of comfort knowing Luck has been throwing a football considering his recent history.
“I’ve thrown significantly, sort of off my feet, to make sure I don’t aggravate something,’’ he said. “But keeping my arm in shape certainly. There’s a bunch to do there.’’
Luck laughed when someone asked the type of football he’s throwing.
“A football, a pigskin, Wilson, Duke,’’ he said. “With Roger Goodell’s signature on it.’’
Those were some of the highlights from Luck’s give-and-take with the media. While it might seem overkill to dwell too long on someone who isn’t practicing, it’s never non-news when that someone is a quarterback and certainly when that someone is a team’s franchise QB.
Regardless the improvement that’s been made with the roster – and trust us, it’s significant – the Colts will go only as far as Andrew Luck takes them.
That in mind, it’s never a good thing when Luck misses extended practice time. We say that even though Luck responded to missing the bulk of last offseason with one of his most successful seasons: 4,593 yards, 39 touchdowns, a career-best 67.3 completion percentage, a fourth Pro Bowl appearance and directing the Colts to the post-season after a three-year absence.
While Luck has yielded practice reps to Jacoby Brissett, Phillip Walker and Chad Kelly, he has compensated by tackling his normal heavy workload in the classroom.
“I’ve always enjoyed meetings and I’ve always enjoyed classrooms,’’ he said. “There’s so much more for me as a quarterback to learn. There’s so much more as all of us as players to get on the same page.
“T.Y. and I still have discussions how we see things maybe differently, how we see things similarly, where we can improve, bringing new guys into the fold.’’
Reich’s first year as head coach included installing a new offense without the benefit of Luck’s help on the field. His starting quarterback was involved in meetings, but still was immersed in his rigorous rehab.
Heading into year 2, Luck is better able to put his fingerprints on everything.
“He has missed the on-field work, but he has gotten so much (done) in the meetings,’’ Reich said. “Andrew’s really been able to have even more input into this system this year, into meetings, putting his imprint on what we’re doing.
“Now, knowing what he likes, what he doesn’t like and why he likes what he likes within our system. I think it’s taken the meetings to a higher level. He’s had a real strong presence this whole offseason.’’
The Colts close their offseason work with Thursday’s minicamp session, then players are off until late July.
It won’t be a six-week vacation. Luck will split time between Indy and California, and do as much as possible to prepare for the rigors of camp and the upcoming season. At some point, that might include throwing sessions with some of his teammates, including free-agent acquisition Devin Funchess.
“If the opportunity comes up, I’ll certainly try to throw to whoever is available,’’ Luck said.
He and Reich already have discussed Luck’s upcoming schedule.
“You know Andrew,’’ Reich said. “He’ll have a plan.’’
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