INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – While the odds remain stacked against Andrew Luck being under center Thursday night when the Indianapolis Colts entertain the Pittsburgh Steelers at Lucas Oil Stadium, optimism resides in Green Bay.
His name: Davante Adams.
The Packers’ veteran receiver is the only player in the NFL this season who suffered a concussion in a Sunday game and successfully passed through the league’s concussion protocol and played the following Thursday.
That’s the steep hill facing Luck, who was concussed during Sunday’s 24-17 win over the Tennessee Titans. The five-day window doesn’t seem to afford enough time for a player to work his way through the various stages of the concussion protocol.
But that’s precisely what Adams managed to accomplish. He suffered a concussion in a Sunday game against the Dallas Cowboys (Oct. 16), then had the best game of his career five days later against Chicago.
Adams did not practice Monday and Tuesday leading up to the Oct. 20 meeting with the Bears, was a limited participant Wednesday and listed questionable on the injury report.
Not only did Adams start against the Bears, he was on the field for 70 of the 87 offensive snaps. He was the catalyst to the 26-10 win with 13 catches for 132 yards and two touchdowns.
Head trauma is the most complicated injury to evaluate and no two are alike, which makes projecting a player’s return virtually impossible.
Three Colts have been in the concussion protocol this season and the return of each varied:
- Vontae Davis was concussed Oct. 30 against Kansas City and cleared to play – six days later – Nov. 6 at Green Bay. The final step was being cleared by an independent neurologist on the Saturday before the game.
- Offensive tackle Joe Reitz suffered a concussion against the Chiefs, missed the Packers game and returned against the Titans. He benefited from the Colts’ bye week, which followed the Packers game.
- Cornerback Patrick Robinson suffered a concussion in the season opener against Detroit and missed the next two games.
Coach Chuck Pagano revealed Luck and safety Clayton Geathers “didn’t feel right” in the locker room following the Titans game. Each met with team physicians before leaving Lucas Oil Stadium.
Asked if the quick turnaround might make it difficult for Luck to advance through the concussion protocol, he replied, “That’d be a good assumption.”
If Luck is unable to play, backup Scott Tolzien will make his third career start, and first since 2013.
“If he has to roll and be the guy, he’ll do a great job,” Pagano said. “Who knows? We’ll be all right if that has to be the case.
“We’ve still got time.”
The Colts’ inability to adequately protect Luck has been an issue since they selected him with the first overall pick in the 2012 draft. He’s been sacked 150 times in 65 regular-season games, including a league-high 35 times this season. According to NFL.com, Luck also has been hit 452 times, the most endured by a QB since 2012.
Luck has suffered at least two sacks in all 10 games this year. He’s been sacked a career-high six times twice in the last seven games – against Jacksonville in London and against the Chiefs.