Colts’ GM Chris Ballard: Andrew Luck arm strength better than last year

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JANUARY 01: Andrew Luck #12 of the Indianapolis Colts throws a pass durling the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Lucas Oil Stadium on January 1, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – As the regular season nears and his Indianapolis Colts were being throttled in their preseason opener against the Detroit Lions Sunday, general manager Chris Ballard offered an update on quarterback Andrew Luck.

It was upbeat in nature.

“He’s doing really well,’’ Ballard said during the third quarter of the Fox59 broadcast. “His strength levels are probably better than they were at any point last season.’’

That’s the most detailed evaluation the team has offered since Luck opened training camp July 29 on the physically unable to able to perform list. He underwent surgery in mid-January to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder.

The Colts open the season Sept. 10 against the Rams in Los Angeles, and any real hope of returning to the playoffs for the first time since 2014 hinges on the health of Luck.

The three-time Pro Bowl quarterback told the media July 29 he had begun throwing a tennis ball as part of his rehab program, but wouldn’t address whether he had started throwing a football.

Luck suffered the labrum injury Dec. 27, 2015 at Tennessee in week 3. He dealt with it that year, and all of 2016. It forced him to routinely miss all or part of practice during the season.

As long as Luck remains on PUP, he’s unable to practice with the team. He’s limited to working with the team’s trainers and rehab staff.

If the unlikely event Luck opens the season on PUP, he must miss at least the first six games.