Everybody’s optimistic, but we’re still in wait-and-see mode with Andrew Luck

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - OCTOBER 30: Andrew Luck #12 of the Indianapolis Colts passes the ball during the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Lucas Oil Stadium on October 30, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The quarterback is confident, as is the franchise with so much invested in that quarterback.

But at the risk of completely hosing down the optimism, we need to keep one thing in mind when discussing Andrew Luck and whether the $140 million QB will be ready when the Indianapolis Colts reconvene for the start of their offseason conditioning program in early April, let alone the start of the 2018 season.

No one knows for sure. Not Andrew Luck. Not Jim Irsay. Not Chris Ballard.

Not yet.

A source with knowledge of Luck’s on-going rehabilitation from surgery on his right shoulder – it’s been a tad over a year ago since a torn labrum in his right shoulder was repaired – insisted things were “very positive at this point’’ and that Luck was “very close’’ to resuming the throwing portion of his regimen.

That’s obviously the next step in the process and will occur, perhaps as soon as next week, under the guidance of quarterback gurus Tom House and Adam Dedeaux at the noted 3DQB facility in Los Angeles.

Soon thereafter, we should get some clarity whether the optimism displayed by Luck when he met with the local media Dec. 29 after returning from the Netherlands and the Colts has been well founded, or based more on wishing and hoping. The determining factor: Does whether Luck’s right shoulder handle the strenuous and sustained throwing, or does the soreness and swelling that shut him down in mid-October and force him to miss all of last season return?

The only phase of Luck’s rehab that will truly ease everyone’s concerns is the one that has him wingin’ the football with authority, without wincing and without requiring too many days off between throwing sessions to rest his shoulder.

Jamey Gordon is the director of athletic development at ProX Athlete in Westfield. He’s a doctor of physical therapy and certified in athletic training and strength and conditioning. He supervises all rehab-related activities at ProX.

And he readily admitted Luck’s situation and the sketchy details surrounding it – the vagueness is understandable, but frustrating nonetheless – have stirred his curiosity.

“They’ve done a pretty good job of keeping it a mystery,’’ Gordon said of Luck and the Colts. “To be honest, I think he’s still a big question mark, a big wait-and-see.’’

Either Luck resumes throwing without incident and returns as the impactful centerpiece of the franchise, or he encounters another hurdle that once again threatens his availability.

Remember, there was ample optimism last season that Luck would return at some point, perhaps late September or early October, before his right shoulder flared up. Four controlled throwing sessions during practice in early October resulted in pain and swelling, which led to a cessation of throwing, which led to a cortisone shot, which led to the team placing him on the injured reserve list Nov. 2.

“Going forward, if we see him doing all his normal, routine stuff and then when they start doing OTAs and minicamps and stuff like that and he’s throwing and not taking days off because his arm hurts or whatever, that’ll tell us a lot,’’ Gordon said. “Every day he answers the little questions is another day you’re not going to ask a big question.

So, Gordon’s curious?

“Yeah,’’ he admitted.

Luck’s decision to temporarily relocate his rehab regimen to the West Coast should be viewed as a positive sign. It’s possible he already has advanced to some light throwing – lobbing, if you prefer – and now is ready to ramp things up at the direction of House and Dedeaux. They are two of the country’s foremost authorities  on the multi-faceted art of throwing. Their clientele list includes a “Who’s who?’’ of NFL quarterbacks: Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, Marcus Mariota, Eli Manning, Andy Dalton, Blake Bortles, Joe Flacco and Matthew Stafford.

And now, Andrew Luck.

“The good news is by sending him to Tom House, they’re expecting him to throw a lot when he’s there,’’ Gordon offered. “You don’t go to Tom House to hope that you can go back to throwing. You go to Tom House because you are throwing or you are either refining it or conditioning for it.

“I’ve not heard of anybody going to Tom House who isn’t able to throw at all.’’

House declined comment when reached by Indy Sports Central, citing confidentiality issues with 3DQB’s clients.

Brady, who’ll search for a record-tying sixth Super Bowl championship Sunday when his New England Patriots face the Philadelphia Eagles in Minneapolis, has worked with House for the past five years.

“Just worked really hard on different things with my mechanics and trying to really just understand how to continue to get better fundamentally, which is so important for a quarterback,’’ Brady said earlier this week. “Throwing the football is a skill and you have to work at it. If you start at 100 percent and your mechanics go off 2 percent each week . . . eight weeks into the season and you’re 15 percent off, and that’s a big difference between winning and losing.

“I’m so critical of myself and my fundamentals. I really want them to be perfect whenever they can be and Tom’s been so important helping me understand what I need to do in order to achieve that. He always keeps in touch . . . he just came along at a great time in my life.’’

In late December, Luck insisted his availability for the upcoming season wasn’t “in jeopardy at all.

“I’m very optimistic. I do not think I need another surgery . . . Yeah, I plan on being ready for everything . . . everything official; NFL offseason schedule.’’

We’ll see.

You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.