INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Another couple of steps remain before he’s cleared to regain control of the Indianapolis Colts offense, but Andrew Luck is ready to put his first concussion behind him.
He patiently fielded a dozen questions Monday – it only seemed like two dozen – regarding the concussion that kept him out of last Thursday’s loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Then, stop it!
“Enough concussion talk, please,’’ Luck pleaded.
His mild protestation was understandable, but so was the line of questioning.
If the Colts are to make a successful December push for the AFC South title, they must have Luck under center. Scott Tolzien was admirable and not the problem against the Steelers, but there’s no debating Luck’s value to the franchise.
“A guy like him makes the game different,’’ running back Frank Gore said. “Defensive coordinators play you different.’’
Barring a setback no one anticipates, Luck will return when the Colts meet the New York Jets Monday night in their latest must-win game.
“Feel great, 100 percent and ready to go,’’ he declared, adding the concussion was the first diagnosed head trauma of his playing career despite his hell-bent approach to the position.
All that remains is for Luck and safety Clayton Geathers, who also was concussed against the Titans, to clear two final hurdles in the NFL’s concussion protocol. They must go through a “contact’’ practice Wednesday, then be cleared by an independent neurologist Thursday.
Luck had no interest in discussing the symptoms he experienced after the Titans game. His head bounced off the turf after he was driven to the ground by 314-pound nose tackle Austin Johnson.
“I’d rather not get into specifics, but I knew something was wrong.’’
And he wouldn’t speculate on whether he might have been cleared to play against the Steelers if not for the quick turnaround.
“That’s a hypothetical I’m not going to get into because there’s no point . . . I felt good towards the end of the week.’’
What was clear: Luck has faith in the league’s concussion protocol.
“I think it’s been very straightforward, clear, what I’ve had to do to get to this point to practice and what I’ll have to do to be able to play,’’ he said. “There’s a protocol obviously for a reason. You have to be prudent with your brain.
“You have to be, cautious maybe is the wrong word, but I think you have to do things by the book. I believe I have and our trainers and doctors have done a great job of informing me, sort of holding my hand per se along this trip.
“But as far as rushing back or not rushing back, I don’t think it applies. You’re back and you’re back.’’
The status of Luck and Geathers isn’t the only issue for the Colts moving forward. As they returned to practice following an extended weekend, five other starters were held out: wideout T.Y. Hilton (lower back), cornerbacks Vontae Davis (groin) and Patrick Robinson (groin), linebacker Robert Mathis (bicep) and guard Denzelle Good (neck).
Center Ryan Kelly, who suffered a shoulder injury on the third play against Pittsburgh, practiced Monday.
Coach Chuck Pagano described Mathis as day-to-day and was optimistic the others would be available the Jets.
Asked how he felt about the team’s overall health, Pagano replied: “Not great, not like we did two weeks ago.’’
Hilton injured his lower back after making a leaping catch, being hit by Steelers safety Mike Mitchell and landing awkwardly.
“I’ll be all right,’’ he said. “Keep getting treatment. If I can play, I’ll play. If I can’t, I can’t.
“I feel way better than I felt (last week). I should be fine.’’
Cole back at work:
Linebacker Trent Cole returned to practice Monday for the first time since being placed on the injured reserve list Sept. 27 with a back injury. The team has a 21-day window to gauge his readiness to be its player to designate for return from IR.
That could happen as early as this week.
“He’s exempt till we active him, so good to have him back out there,’’ Pagano said.