Colts rule Andrew Luck out versus Rams; still taking long-term approach

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – There has been no deviation in how the Indianapolis Colts have handled their most precious commodity.

That would be Andrew Luck. The $140 million quarterback with a right shoulder that still isn’t game ready and still might be not fully ready to handle the weight of a full practice.

General Manager Chris Ballard confirmed on Monday what has long been speculated: Luck will not start the Colts’ season opener Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams. “He’ll be out this week versus the Rams,’’ Ballard said Monday. “We’ll still take it week-to-week.’’

In the short term, the Colts’ fate rests with backup Scott Tolzien, who’ll make his fourth career start against the Rams.

In the long term, it’s all about Luck. He’s eight months removed from having surgery on his right shoulder to repair a torn labrum.

Throughout Luck’s rehab process, team officials have settled into a steady-as-she-goes stance. A general recovery time from labrum surgery is six-to-eight months. Then, there’s a six-week window for a player to throw. The Colts never affixed a timetable for Luck’s actual return first to the practice field, then to the playing field. That remains the case.

“Still no timetable,’’ Ballard said. “He’s in the training phase right now. He’s done excellent in his rehab and we’re still continuing to take it week-to-week.’’

The next step is for Luck to participate in practice. While he was on the physically unable to perform list (PUP), he was prohibited from working with teammates. “Every player needs to practice,’’ Ballard said. “(They) need to be with their teammates. They need to be able to practice and Andrew is going to need the same thing. That came in a lot with the decision of PUP because when he is back, we want to incorporate him back into practice.

“Y’all have been here. You know the last couple of years that’s been an issue. He hasn’t been able to practice.’’

In 2016 while Luck was dealing with the shoulder and other injury issues, he was a full participant in only half – 24 of 48 – of the team’s weekly practices. He missed five practices entirely, the bulk while dealing with a concussion.

“I think Andrew will tell you, ‘I want to get back to where I can practice every day. I can throw to our receivers every day. I can feel the pocket. I can feel the pressure every day,’’’ Ballard said. “We want to get back to that point.

“That’s why I’m being extra conservative here to where I want to make sure when we get Andrew back, he can practice every day. It’ll be a little bit of a process to get him to that. But we will.

“We don’t want to jeopardize for the short-term here over the long haul. Andrew is a young player still and we have to have a long-term view of where we’re going.’’

Ballard was asked if Luck believes he’s ready to practice, and play? “He’s a competitive, competitive guy and he likes to compete,’’ he said. “The juices get flowing and he cares. He cares about his teammates.

“I’ll say this: Andrew, right now, mentally is in the best place I’ve seen him. The strain is off the face. He’s in a real good spot.’’

Ballard wouldn’t elaborate on whether Luck has fully recovered from a physical standpoint. “He’s good. I won’t get into specifics, but know I’ve monitored . . . that very closely,’’ he said. “He’s in a good place and he’s in a good spot.
“I’ll say this, no setbacks. There has not been any setbacks in his recovery.’’

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