Peyton Manning on Andrew Luck: Reps are the key in comeback

Left: Peyton Manning (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images); Right: Andrew Luck (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – It was about getting the reps for Peyton Manning after missing the 2011 season, and undoubtedly will be for Andrew Luck, who’s looking to return to the playing field after missing last season with his right shoulder issues.

Manning, the former decorated Indianapolis Colts quarterback, believes Luck, the team’s current decorated QB, will seek as many practice reps as possible once he’s cleared for full-go work.

That served Manning well as he returned to action in 2013 with the Denver Broncos after missing ’11 – the final of his 14 seasons with the Colts – with his neck issues.

Manning wouldn’t compare coming back from his injury with Luck’s, but insisted there was a “universal’’ aspect to it.

“For me, I was a (repetition) guy,’’ Manning told ESPN’s Mike Wells after playing a round of golf in Wednesday’s Pro-Am at the Memorial in Dublin, Ohio. “I liked to get all the reps on practice. The theory of 10,000 reps, I believe in that.

“I felt like I was behind because I hadn’t gotten the reps even though you have a lot in the bank. It took me a few games before I felt like I was coming back. Getting as many reps as possible is the key.’’

Luck is practicing on a limited basis with the Colts during their offseason program, but his rehab regimen hasn’t included throwing a regulation football. Coach Frank Reich indicated the plan is for Luck to get enough throwing between the end of the offseason work (June 14) and the start of training camp (the fourth week of July) so he’ll be throwing without restrictions when camp opens in Westfield.

The last time Luck threw with the team was in mid-October, and that resulted in soreness and swelling in his shoulder. The team placed him on the injured reserve list Nov. 2.

Luck last appeared in a game Jan. 1, 2017 against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Manning’s inactivity mirrored Luck’s. His final game with the Colts was a 17-16 playoff loss to the New York Jets Jan. 8, 2011 and his first with the Broncos was a 31-19 win over Pittsburgh. In his return, Manning completed 19-of-26 passes for 253 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.

The one-season lull initially forced Manning to adjust his game.

“I knew I was going to have to play a different kind of way, a different sort of physical state,’’ he said. “I was looking for things like positive feedback from receivers on whether the ball felt the same coming in and then when you get into the game and you throw a deep out.

“We played a preseason game and I threw a deep comeback route, and that was a thing to check off the box. You want to do everything for the first time again. You want to get hit, you want to make a tight throw, have a two-minute drive.

“I wanted to do all those things again.’’

The Colts can only hope Luck approaches the level of success that Manning achieved.

In his first season back, Manning passed for 4,659 yards and 37 TDs with 11 interceptions and a 105.8 passer rating. The next season, he won his NFL-record fifth MVP and set league records with 5,477 yards and 55 TDs.

“I’m pulling for Andrew’s return,’’ Manning said. “I stay in touch with him. I came to the Combine. He and I sat down for two to three hours and talked about in-season routine, offseason routine.’’

Wednesday, Reich conceded it’s going to take time for Luck to regain his form once he’s back to practice without restrictions.

“I’m not going to say it’s not going to be challenging,’’ he said. “This is the NFL. You want to be at the top of your game in every aspect.

“But mentally, he’s learning the offense. Not getting the reps, obviously every rep is important. But I’ve experienced what it’s like to be a backup and not get reps and still have to go in there and play, so I know it can be done.

“Obviously he’s got elite-level ability mentally and physically in every way. He’s been around a few years now. I’m confident when he starts taking reps that things will accelerate very quickly.’’