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Colts’ Andrew Luck still not throwing, but optimistic on making full recovery

Andrew Luck

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The immediate questions focused on short-term issues.

When will you start throwing?

Will you be ready for the start of training camp?

Andrew Luck did nothing to quell anyone’s concerns regarding either Tuesday after being a spectator for the first of the Indianapolis Colts’ three minicamp practices.

No, his rehabilitation from surgery in mid-January to repair a partially-torn labrum in his right shoulder has not advanced to where he’s started throwing.

That time, Luck insisted, is “absolutely approaching. I’m not going to get into specifics and dates and timelines. Timelines are unfair to everybody.

“(Throwing is) what we’re working for.’’

And no, Luck was in no position to assure anyone he’ll be ready when players report for training camp July 29.

“To be honest, I have not thought about it,’’ he said. “If I’m ready for it, then great. If I’m not, then that’s the way it is. I’m certainly hopeful for it.

“With this rehab, with my shoulder, I can’t look five months down the road, three months, two months, a week down the road. It’s about the next rehab session, the next day. That’s where my focus is and that’s where it needs to be for me to truly get back to 100 percent.’’

And make no mistake, that’s priority 1.

As much as general manager Chris Ballard has contended the Colts can’t be about one player – he’s committed to building a solid roster, from 1 to 53 – the fate of the franchise rests on Luck making a full recovery.

He’s the NFL’s highest-paid player and the heartbeat of the Colts. Yet he hasn’t thrown a pass since Jan. 1, when his 1-yard flip to Jack Doyle with 9 seconds to play gave the Colts a 30-27 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Then in mid-January, surgery to repair an injury that occurred in week 3 of the 2015 season. Luck immediately dropped about 15 pounds, but has since regained “probably 10 to 12 of those. I still have a few pounds I’d like to add on.’’

Then, months of rehab. The plan all along has been for Luck to miss the entirety of the Colts’ offseason work, including this week’s mandatory minicamp.

Luck’s playful disposition popped to the surface when he was asked the last time he’s gone this long – more than 5 months – without throwing a football.

“I probably couldn’t tell you, maybe a month,’’ he said, quickly adding, “well, I probably didn’t start throwing a football until I was like 6 or 7 years old, so probably 7 years.’’

While Luck has to occasionally resist the temptation to pick up the nearest football and loosen up his right arm – “That’s not part of the protocol and I understand that’s way more important than any instinctual urge right now for me’’  – he has kept the bigger picture in mind.

The rehab process, while methodical, is designed for Luck to regain his “A’’ game. Sooner than later would be preferable, especially considering the Colts open the season Sept. 10 against the Los Angeles Rams.

But that’s secondary. At 27 and entering his sixth season, he’s just now approaching what should be his peak years.

Luck consistently declined to offer specifics, but left no ambiguity regarding his optimism on his rehab producing the desired results.

His confidence on returning to 100 percent?

“Very high. Very, very high,’’ he said. “One, I feel and see myself getting better every day, every week. And that’s sort of something you can hang your hat on.

“It’s tangible, measurable progress. To me, that’s what matters right now.’’

His message to concerned Colts’ fans?

“They don’t need to have any concern about their quarterback,’’ Luck said. “It’ll be alright.’’

Prior to Tuesday’s practice, coach Chuck Pagano was unable to offer anything approaching an update on whether his rehabbing QB would be ready for training camp.

“Am I hopeful? Am I praying? Yeah. So is everybody,’’ he said. “We all want him out there.

“But again, there’s really no timetable on it.’’

The next step in the process, Pagano noted, is for Luck to resume throwing. Even then, it will be measured.

“There’s going to be a number, a pitch count on him,’’ Pagano said. “He’s going to have to continue to build from the ground floor up.

“We’re just listening to our docs and our trainers. We’re listening to Andrew. He knows himself. He knows his body better than anybody else.’’

Luck not the only spectator

Taking roll was a difficult task Tuesday. An unofficial count had 15 players not participating in the afternoon workout.

The list included Luck, wide receivers T.Y. Hilton, Phillip Dorsett and Al-Damion Riles; safeties Clayton Geathers and Malik Hooker; defensive end Kendall Langford defensive lineman Hassan Ridgeway; guard Jack Mewhort; offensive linemen Brent Schwenke and Denzelle Good; running backs Frank Gore and Marlon Mack; linebacker Akeem Ayers; and tight end Colin Jeter.

Hilton suffered a minor injury to his left hamstring last week and is being held out for precautionary measures.

Ridgeway underwent shoulder surgery at the end of last season and hasn’t been cleared for practice. He is expected to be ready for training camp.