Colts’ Chris Ballard: Not going to put a timetable on Andrew Luck’s return

Andrew Luck #12 of the Indianapolis Colts throws a pass during the game against the Houston Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 11, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Chris Ballard made one thing perfectly clear regarding the most important member of the Indianapolis Colts.

Andrew Luck will return to the practice field when he’s ready, and not a second sooner. He remains in rehab mode after undergoing surgery in January to repair a partially-torn labrum in his right shoulder.

The subject was broached Saturday morning as Ballard met with the local media in a 30-minute give-and-take session.

“When I got in the building, no pressure on Andrew. None,’’ said Ballard, who succeeded Ryan Grigson as general manager in late January. “I want to do what’s right for Andrew Luck and his career. We’re not going to force Andrew Luck to put a timetable on him and say, ‘You have to be back by this time.’

“No. This is a team game and it’s our job to put enough around him on the field and find a way to get it done when he gets back in the mix. And if he’s not ready right away, then we’ll keep moving forward. But we’re not going to put a timetable or force him.’’

The Colts are in the midst of their offseason work. Things ramp up May 22 with organized team activities (OTAs) and June 13 with a mandatory veteran’s minicamp.

No one will be surprised if Luck misses all of the offseason work, and no one is commenting whether he’ll be ready for the start of training camp in late July.

“Time-wise or ‘I need to be this by this date,’ I am not going to worry about it,’’ Luck said earlier this month. “I have full trust in the guys that are helping me out and when we feel like I am ready, then I will be ready.

“Yeah, I want to play. I want to play, but I am not going to worry about it.’’

Ballard has been encouraged by Luck’s rehab routine, even if it doesn’t include position-specific work.

“As for him not practicing, you ought to watch him compete every day in rehab,’’ Ballard said. “I mean, this dude works. He works. And it’s been fun to watch.

“I’m watching him work like crazy, He’s starting to get good motion in his arm. He’s working away.’’

Until Luck returns, the Colts offense remains in the hands of backup Scott Tolzien and No. 3 Stephen Morris. A fourth quarterback probably will be added in the next few days to ease the workload when on-field practice begins.

“We’ll continue to look,’’ Ballard said, “but we like Scott. Going back and watching the Pittsburgh game last year, I didn’t think Scott was the reason y’all lost the game. So that’s what you want.

“I mean, we’d all love to have a backup quarterback who can win 12, 13 games with. But we all know that’s not realistic. But we’ll continue to look at it, just from a competition standpoint.’’

Ballard also is aware the QB he inherited has taken too much abuse during his first five seasons. Luck has been sacked 156 times in 70 regular-season starts and the Colts have allowed 578 QB hits since 2012, the most in the NFL according to NFL.com.

Luck’s practice time was severely limited last season by a variety of injuries. He missed the Steelers game with a concussion.

“Absolutely I’m aware of it,’’ Ballard said. “I think everybody in this building’s aware of it. I think everybody in the building