Chris Ballard: Andrew Luck will be worked back into Colts practice this week

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – This is the week Andrew Luck returns to the practice field, albeit it in a limited role.

That’s the word from Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard.

“We’ll slowly start working him back into practice this week,’’ he said during the team’s Monday night radio show. “We’ll see how much he gets.

“But we’ve got a plan in place to where we want him to start getting him reps and then, in time as we can get him incorporated back into team work and all that, we’ll get him back on the field.’’

The team returns to the practice field Wednesday.

Luck hasn’t practiced with his teammates since undergoing January surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder. The team has been optimistic he would return before now, but its $140 million quarterback has been working with the rehab staff since being taken off the physically unable to perform list (PUP) Sept. 2.

“Andrew’s doing good, he’s doing really good,’’ Ballard said. “I’ve watched him throw the ball and he’s starting to get his motion back, getting his lower body to start working with his upper body.

“His strength levels are getting back to where they need to be.’’

The Colts have opened 1-3 without Luck with Scott Tolzien starting the opener in Los Angeles and Jacoby Brissett starting the last three games. Brissett will make his fourth consecutive start Sunday when the Colts host the San Francisco 49ers in Lucas Oil Stadium.

Luck almost certainly will need two or three weeks of concentrated practice before he’s ready to return to the lineup. That would make his return coming Oct. 16 at Tennessee at the very earliest, but more likely Oct. 22 at home against Jacksonville or Oct. 29 at Cincinnati.

“Everybody has to understand he’s not going to come back and take all the first-team reps and play 50, 60, 70 snaps in practice a day,’’ Chuck Pagano said. “We have to integrate him back into practice. Like anybody else, do some individual, throw some routes versus air, stay with his throwing progression and bring him along.

“Again, it’d be great just to have him out there with his teammates, red jersey on, working again.’’