Calf injury keeping Andrew Luck out of practice; might it force Colts to keep 3 QBs?
WESTFIELD, Ind. – The waiting continues with Andrew Luck, and at some point that could impact the numbers game facing the Indianapolis Colts later this month.
Continued pain in his left calf will keep Luck out of practice when the Colts return to Grand Park Sports Campus Saturday morning. In fact, he won’t step on the field with his teammates the next three days, upping his consecutive missed practices to 10.
Coach Frank Reich had a “good meeting’’ with his franchise quarterback Friday morning, but the end result was anything but uplifting. Luck revealed he’s still not ready to return to practice. He’s participated in just three of 11 sessions, each time on a limited basis.
“He’s continuing to progress with his strength, which is awesome,’’ Reich said. “There still is a degree of pain that he’s not comfortable with, so we’re not comfortable with putting him out there.
“Probably likely not going to be out there for these next three practices and we’re just going to continue to work with the medical staff on a plan moving forward.’’
The Colts are on the field Saturday, Sunday and Monday before a day off Tuesday. They share the practice fields with the Cleveland Browns Wednesday and Thursday leading up to Saturday’s preseason game at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Reich and the team remain optimistic Luck will be ready for the Sept. 8 season opener against the Los Angeles Chargers, but the extended absence from camp has to be a concern.
“We talked the other day about the concern level,’’ Reich said. “It’s always the both/and. Every player that we have when he has an injury, yes, there’s a level of concern for the player, for wanting to get him better.
“And then you wear the hat of the coach and the team and say, ‘It’s always next man up.’’’
In Thursday night’s 24-16 preseason opening loss at Buffalo, Jacoby Brissett, Phillip Walker and Chad Kelly shared the quarterbacking duties. Brissett is the no-doubt backup with Walker and Kelly competing for the No. 3 spot.
At issue: might Luck’s lingering calf injury force general manager Chris Ballard to carry three QBs when rosters are cut to 53 Aug. 31?
Since the Colts selected Luck with the first overall pick in the 2012 draft, they’ve carried three QBs on their opening-day roster only twice.: in ’12 with Luck, Drew Stanton and Chandler Harnish, and in ’17 with Luck, Brissett and Scott Tolzien. As everyone remembers, Luck missed all of 2017 with his right shoulder issues.
Teams are loathe to carry three QBs. That obviously impacts other positions, such as receiver or cornerback, where the Colts appear to be especially deep.
“Chris and I are always talking about every spot the whole way,’’ Reich said. “We remain confident and optimistic on Andrew’s situation, but again, it’s still day-to-day and working through the plan. What’s the best plan for him, for the team?
“We’ll adjust as needed, if needed.’’
Brissett and the starting offense were ineffective against the Bills. The first three drives consisted of 11 plays, 22 yards and one first down. Brissett completed 2-of-5 passes for 21 yards.
Walker and Kelly took over, and enjoyed varying degrees of success.
Walker (8-of-18, 85 yards, one interception) engineered a 2-minute drive at the end of the first half that resulted in rookie Cole Hedlund’s 42-yard field goal as time expired.
Kelly, meanwhile, fashioned an impressive performance in a return to his hometown. He completed 13-of-19 passes for 121 yards and rushed four times for 53 yards. His individual highlight was a 33-yard touchdown run.
Credit Kelly’s decision to deviate from Reich’s intended play. It was a zone-read to the left, and Kelly was supposed to hand off to running back Aca’Cedric Ware. Instead, he kept the ball, turned the left corner and outran Buffalo’s defense to the end zone.
“I remember my dad used to tell me when I was a quarterback, ‘Just remember if you ever go against what the coach calls, you just better be right or else expect to get the wrath of the coach,’’’ he said.
“Especially a younger guy, if you’ve gonna do something like that, just be right. Right? And he was. You could feel that with Chad. He’s got that Kelly instinct in him, and I say that as a positive with what I know of his uncle.
Kelly’s uncle is Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly.
Reich said the Colts came out of the Buffalo game “very clean medically. A few bumps and bruises, but nothing significant.’’
Among the players held out of the game was veteran placekicker Adam Vinatieri, who’s dealing with a knee injury.
“He’s dealing with a little bit of a knee issue,’’ Reich said, “but not anything that’s going to be a problem.’’
Hedlund took advantage of Vinatieri’s absence to convert 42-, 44- and 25-yard field goals.
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