Andrew Luck lacerated kidney in victory over Broncos, unclear when he’ll return

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Andrew Luck (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (November 10, 2015) – The latest obstacle is the most daunting for the Indianapolis Colts, who’ll be without quarterback Andrew Luck for the foreseeable future after he suffered a lacerated kidney and a partially torn abdominal muscle in Sunday’s pivotal win over the Denver Broncos.

The team doesn’t believe surgery is required, but Luck’s recovery time is in the two-to-six week range, according to Coach Chuck Pagano.

“It is one heck of a blow,” he said. “You don’t want to lose anybody, especially your starting quarterback. Our guys will respond like they always do.

“It will galvanize us even more. We’ve been through a ton already this season and in the past and we’ll get through it.”

While Luck mends, the team once again will rely on its $3 million insurance policy: Matt Hasselbeck, 40, is the NFL’s oldest non-kicker. When an injury to Luck’s right shoulder forced him to miss two games earlier this season, Hasselbeck stepped in and essentially rescued a season on the brink by directing wins over Jacksonville and Houston.

“We’ve won with Matt,” Pagano said, “and we’ll do the same thing again and certainly we will not put Andrew back out there until he’s 100 percent healthy.”

The kidney/abdominal injuries are the latest to plague Luck this season. Along with the shoulder injury, he dealt with fractured ribs.

It appears the Colts dodged a more serious situation. The San Diego Chargers placed wide receiver Keenan Allen on the season-ending injured reserve list after he suffered a lacerated kidney.

While it’s hardly consolation to a team that stands 4-5 following the victory over the previously-unbeaten Broncos, Luck’s injury seemingly comes at a time when it can best deal with.

First, the Colts are entering their bye week. That gives new offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski and Hasselbeck time to absorb yet another shock to their systems.

Secondly, the injuries occurred as the team heads into a softer portion of its schedule, albeit with three of the next four on the road. The Colts return to action Nov. 22 at Atlanta, host Tampa Bay Nov. 29, then hit the road Dec. 6 against Pittsburgh and Dec. 13 against the Jaguars.

Since opening 5-0, the Falcons have lost three of four, including a 17-16 setback to the Blaine Gabbert-led San Francisco 49ers last Sunday. The Buccaneers are 3-6 and been erratic despite the solid rookie season of quarterback Jameis Winston; Pittsburgh is 5-4 and the status of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (ankle) is uncertain; and the Jaguars are 2-6 and already were beaten by the Colts (16-13).

And let’s not forget the Colts still reside in the AFC South. They sit atop the division with their 4-5 record, and it’s hard to imagine Houston (3-5), Jacksonville (2-6) or Tennessee (2-6) mounting a serious challenge.

If Luck is able to return in mid-December, that should give him enough time to knock off the rust and be ready for a first-round home playoff game.

So much, however, hinges on Hasselbeck duplicating his efficient performance against the Jaguars and Texans. He completed 48-of-76 passes for 495 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions.

“We will win football games with Matt,” Pagano said. “Everybody is going to have to pick up their game when you lose a player, especially when you lose your starting quarterback.

“We will overcome this and Andrew will make a full recovery. We all know that, and he’ll be back in the lineup at some point. We will overcome.”

You could excuse Pagano for wondering what’s next.

A season that began with the Colts being considered serious Super Bowl contenders has been plagued with one setback after another.

Aside from Luck’s injuries, the team lost defensive tackle Art Jones (ankle) during the preseason and placed rookie defensive tackle Henry Johnson (knee) on the season-ending injured reserve list this week. Also, Pro Bowl receiver T.Y. Hilton has dealt with knee and foot injuries, and cornerback Greg Toler (neck) missed the first four games of the season.

On Nov. 3, offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton was fired.

Pagano, whose long-term job security is in question, was asked on a conference call if he’s been through such a season of adversity.

“I don’t think so, but it’s the National Football League and we’re getting our fair share of tests and adversity,” he said. “Like I said, we’ve come through the fire before and we’ll come through this one again.

“It’s tough obviously, but again, you’ve got to move forward. It’s another body blow, but you pick yourself up, you dust yourself off and you go to work.’’

Luck suffered the kidney/abdominal injuries against the Broncos on a 4-yard scramble on the first play of the fourth quarter. He opted not to slide, and was hit low by Danny Trevathan and in the lower back from behind by Vance Walker.

Incredibly, Luck picked himself up and tossed an 8-yard touchdown pass to Ahmad Bradshaw on the next play.

After suffering the injury, Luck completed 5-of-7 passes for 64 yards and the TD to Bradshaw.

“He was sore after the game and then he came in Monday afternoon and was more sore and so that’s when we sent him for tests,” Pagano said.

Audio from a conference call with Pagano regarding Luck’s injuries below: