INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The one player whose absence is impossible to ignore remains absent.
That would be Andrew Luck.
Is the Indianapolis Colts’ most indispensable player getting any closer to leaving the physically unable to perform list and joining practice?
“As far as I know, he’s making progress; day-to-day, every day ,’’ Rob Chudzinski said Wednesday.
The team’s offensive coordinator flashed a what-type-of-answer-did-you-expect? grin. Chudzinski’s response was in line with what has been the company line.
Remember Chuck Pagano’s response earlier in the week? The line of questioning dealt with how much practice time Luck will need once he leaves PUP and is added to the active roster.
“Again, we’re not going to know until we get him out here,’’ Pagano said. “Again, when doctors say he’s ready, healthy and 100 percent and he can start practicing, then you’ll have that answer.’’
A quick glance at the calendar tells us time is running out – or has run out – for Luck to be under center for the Sept. 10 opener against the Rams in Los Angeles. If the team would take him off PUP today or Monday at the latest, he would have six actual practices in preparation for the Rams. The Colts will practice Monday and Tuesday prior to the Aug. 31 preseason finale against Cincinnati, then four days prior to the Rams game.
That’s it. And let’s not forget Luck hasn’t practiced with his teammates in eight months.
While on PUP, Luck is not allowed to work with any of his teammates. That means not throwing to his receivers, not handing off to his running backs and not taking snaps from a center. He’s limited to working with trainers and rehab personnel.
Does the team have a timetable for his return?
“There’s no timeline. No timetable,’’ Pagano said, quickly adding he isn’t allowing himself to dwell on the fact time’s running out for a Sept. 10 return by his QB.
“Control the controllables, right?’’ he said.
So with Luck, it’s out of sight, out of mind?
“No, he’s around,’’ Pagano said, grinning. “It’s good. You guys worry too much.’’
That’s debatable considering the current status of the Luck-less offense.
Through two preseason games, it ranks 26th in the NFL under the guidance of backup Scott Tolzien and subs Stephen Morris and Phillip Walker. The Colts have scored only two offensive TDs – both in the fourth quarter with Morris at the controls – while averaging 262.6 yards per game and 5.6 yards per play. They have converted only 5-of-30 third-down opportunities.
Chudzinski wavered when assessing Tolzien’s performance. Through two games, he’s completed 12-of-19 passes for 94 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. He’s averaged 4.95 yards per attempt and converted just 1-of-8 third-down opportunities.
“I think there’s been ups, there’s been downs,’’ Chudzinski said. “There have been good things, some not-so-good things.
“I feel comfortable with him and the direction he’s going. We have two more preseason games and those will be good tests.’’
The offensive line received a needed boost Wednesday with Brian Schwenke being taken off PUP and added to the active roster. He suffered a broken bone in his foot during organized team activities.
Schwenke was one of general manager Chris Ballard’s offseason free-agent acquisitions and expected to provide depth at guard and center.
“Felt good to be back out here,’’ he said after limited work in Wednesday’s practice. “It’s been a long time since I’ve played some football. It’s been a long time since we’ve had that bond when you work together.’’
The coaching staff initially will limit Schwenke’s work in practice.
“As far as my injury goes,’’ he said, “it went well. You just don’t want to push it too quickly.’’
Schwenke took reps at center and guard, and it’s likely he’ll supplant rookie Deyshawn Bond at center while Ryan Kelly recovers from foot surgery. Kelly could miss the first month of the season.
“Obviously we’ll find out,’’ Chudzinski said. “We’ll find out really quickly.’’
Schwenke spent his first four years in the NFL with the Tennessee Titans, appearing in 41 games and starting 28. He started three games last season at left guard but started 25 the previous three seasons at center.
Is there enough time for him to adequately prepare himself for the Sept. 10 opener?
“I’m confident in my ability to play,’’ Schwenke said. “You definitely want to get those reps under your belt. That’s what training camp’s for, and I missed most of that.
“It’s important for me to get back and try to get as many reps as (possible) before the season starts just so I can be comfortable and confident in my ability.’’