Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts 'didn't talk about' playing through pain in 2016

By Alex Butler  |  Updated May 9, 2017 at 7:02 PM
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May 9 (UPI) -- The Indianapolis Colts don't sound very confident when it comes to Andrew Luck's health and the 2017 season.

But it could be what wasn't said that seems most concerning.

That sentiment continued Tuesday when coaches met with the media. Luck, 27, has missed out on the Colts' offseason program while recovering from his January shoulder surgery. The Colts would like to have him back on the field, obviously, but were a bit cryptic about when that will be.

"Well, ideally you'd love to have them all out there and Andrew included," Colts offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski told reporters. "Like I mentioned before, the most important thing right now is that he gets healthy and that he gets back to 100 percent. Whenever that is, we'll take it."

With Luck out, the Colts are working with Scott Tolzien and Stephen Morris. Chudzinski said it's a challenge not having his starting signal caller out there.

"It's nothing new," Chudzinski said. "Last season, we dealt with a lot of that and a number of guys being out and working through practices and those type of things. The bottom line is the best thing for Andrew and keeping him healthy and ready to go, and I have no doubts in my mind that he'll be ready to go once he's back out on the field. He's proven that he's done that before."

Luck started every game in each of his first three NFL seasons after being picked No. 1 in the 2012 NFL Draft. He played seven games in 2015 and 15 games last season. The three-time Pro Bowl selection led the NFL with 40 touchdowns in 2014. He tossed 31 scores against 13 interceptions last season.

Luck's latest surgery was related to an injury from 2015. In March, Colts owner Jim Irsay said the Colts wouldn't rush Luck back. Irsay said the Colts would be willing to add an extra arm in camp if Luck can't take the preseason reps.

"This is going to be a huge benefit in the long run," Irsay said told the Colts website. "We really feel that he's going to be completely healed for the season and he's going to have a great season. Chris [Ballard] and Chuck [Pagano] have talked and we are going to make sure, if we need an extra arm in camp, as we start doing our work, we will be prepared for that."

Luck's shoulder issues began in Week 3 of the 2015 season. He missed two games after that before his season ended in Week 9 after a kidney injury. Last season, Luck fully participated in practice about 50 percent of the time.

Colts quarterbacks coach Brian Schottenheimer said the team didn't talk about how much pain Luck was in last season.

"It was one of those deals where we really never talked about it," Schottenheimer told reporters. "He just went out there. We knew there were restrictions on his throwing, but he just went out and played. He never talks about it. He's just – he's the ultimate competitor. So I never had to question him. I never had to ask him about it."

Schottenheimer said the Colts staff often says "Andrew should not be a double-digit interception guy" because he is "too good of a player."

"You're going to throw interceptions," Schottenheimer told reporters. "It just happens. Normally they're bad throws that cause those, but the decisions, if we can eliminate those, that'll obviously help him drop down. That's kind of the number we've been using. He should throw seven, eight, something like that. He had 13 [interceptions] last year."

Luck has 68 interceptions in 70 career games through his five seasons. He signed a six-year, $139.1 million contract in June.

Last week, Colts first-year general manager Chris Ballard said the franchise wasn't going to put a timetable on Luck.

"Well, we're not going to put a timetable on Andrew," Ballard told SiriusXM NFL Radio. "And I've talked a long time with Chuck our doctors, our trainer and with Andrew. And we're not going to put a timetable back on him. We're going to make sure we do the right thing for the young man and make sure we get him back healthy, where he can finish out his career right and have a long time left to play."

The Colts also announced Tuesday that the franchise will retire Peyton Manning's No. 18 jersey. Manning will also get a statue and be inducted into the franchise's Ring of Honor on Oct. 8 against the San Francisco 49ers at Lucas Oil Stadium.

While Manning is regarded as one of the best quarterbacks of all time, Luck was ranked No. 92 in the NFL Network's Top 100 players last season. He came in at No. 7 in 2015. He has yet to be named on this year's list, which is chosen by NFL players. So far No. 100 through No. 71 have been released by the network.

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