WESTFIELD, Ind. – The plan never was to test Andrew Luck’s stamina during the preseason. Never.
But neither did the plan include Luck not playing one snap in preseason games, and missing the bulk of training camp with a strained left calf muscle.
As Frank Reich and Chris Ballard mulled over how best to deal with their $140 million quarterback as the Indianapolis Colts prepared for training camp and four preseason games, they determined it would involve quality over quantity.
Fifteen snaps in preseason games, they figured. Maybe 20.
They agreed on Luck “probably not playing a whole lot, and that’s everything for the whole preseason, in games,’’ Reich said Saturday. “So, really to miss 15 or 20 snaps . . . would they be nice to take? Yeah.
“But if he ends up not getting any, I don’t think 15 to 20 snaps are going to shock the world.’’
Luck didn’t practice Saturday – he came out late after doing his personal rehab work away from teammates – and won’t be on the field Sunday or Monday. That will be 10 consecutive missed practices, and it’s uncertain if he’ll participate in the joint work with the Cleveland Browns Wednesday and Thursday.
After meeting the Browns Saturday afternoon at Lucas Oil Stadium, the Colts host the Chicago Bears Aug. 24 before a preseason-closing trip to Cincinnati Aug. 28.
Indy opens the season Sept. 8 against the Los Angeles Chargers, and everyone – the Colts, Luck – expects Luck to be under center.
At issue, though, is how much practice time with his offensive line, T.Y. Hilton, Devin Funchess, Eric Ebron, Jack Doyle and the rest does Luck need to be adequately prepared for the Chargers?
Luck is dealing with lingering pain in his left calf that is restricting his ability to play at full speed, and continues to work on regaining full strength in it. Reich recently said Luck “is driving the truck’’ on when he’ll return to practice, but revealed Saturday Luck has not been medically cleared at this point.
“He’s been told, ‘No practice right now. Let’s get this thing better,’’’ Reich said. “We all know how tough this guy is, so this isn’t like, can he play with pain? Of course he can play with pain. But this is about doing the best thing for him and the best thing for our team.’’
While the team anticipated Luck playing sparingly in preseason games, they didn’t foresee him missing extended practice time.
“You always get better when you’re out here, but he’s doing a great job,’’ Reich said. “Like he said, we get as much as we can out of the walk-throughs and then you count on the fact that this isn’t the average physical human being.
“This guy is freakish in his abilities, physically and mentally. So when he gets back, he’s naturally going to progress faster than most people just because of his gifts.’’
Some back, some not
Along with Luck, a few other Colts continued to miss practice. The list included center Ryan Kelly (shoulder), kicker Adam Vinatieri (knee), defensive end Jabaal Sheard (knee), wideouts Parris Campbell (hamstring) and Penny Hart (hamstring), tight ends Ebron (ankle/foot) and Ross Travis (hamstring) and running back Jordan Wilkins (foot).
On the plus side, tight end Doyle (oblique) and rookie defensive end Ben Banogu (hamstring) returned.
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