INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Nov. 25, 2015) – There’s no firm timetable for Andrew Luck’s return this season, but his expectations are unwavering.
“Yeah, very confident. Very confident I’ll be able to return,’’ the cornerstone of the Indianapolis Colts said Wednesday in his first availability since suffering a lacerated kidney and torn abdominal muscle November 8 against the Denver Broncos.
The initial prognosis was for Luck to miss up to six weeks. If that’s the case, he would return for the Colts’ December 27 trip to Miami.
The nature of Luck’s injuries severely limits the physical load he’s able to handle during the early portion of his rehabilitation.
“Rest is a huge, huge portion of it from what the doctors and everybody have told me,’’ he said. “That’s what you have to do for organs to get healthy.’’
The return from some injuries – perhaps a sprained ankle or sore shoulder – can be accelerated with a specific treatment. Not so a lacerated kidney.
“As athletes, we do know our bodies very well,’’ Luck said. “We say we know them better than anybody else. But there are certain things that are non-negotiable . . . an organ healing is non-negotiable.
“I know this week we’ve picked it up a little bit, but by no means back on the field running around full speed. I sort of defer to the doctors and really try to take it day-by-day. You don’t want to look too far ahead and miss a day, a chance to get better.’’
Luck’s fourth season has involved one obstacle after another.
Initially, he battled himself. He suffered eight turnovers – seven interceptions and one fumble – in the first three games.
While leading the Colts to a dramatic 35-33 win at Tennessee in week 3, Luck suffered an injury to his right shoulder and also might have sustained an injury to his ribs. He missed the first two games of his career, snapping a streak of 57 consecutive starts, including the playoffs.
Luck returned October 18 against New England, but in his fourth game back suffered the kidney and abdominal injuries on the first play of the fourth quarter against Denver. Opting not to slide on second-and-9 scramble at the Broncos’ 12-yard line, he was hit in the midsection by linebacker Danny Trevathan and from behind by tackle Vance Walker.
Luck knew immediately the tackle did some damage.
“I felt something, but you feel something a lot of times when you’re playing football,’’ he said. “Adrenalin is a very powerful thing.’’
As for the season in its entirety, Luck agreed “obviously some different challenges have presented themselves. I know I wasn’t playing very good football to start the season off and I’m still (dealing) with injuries.
“That’s sports. That’s football. It’s part of it. You learn no one feels sorry for you. You keep plugging away.’’
Despite missing three games, Luck’s 12 interceptions are tied for the second-most in the league. Only Peyton Manning, with 17, has more. His 74.9 passer rating is ahead of only Manning (67.6) and former Houston QB Ryan Mallet (63.6).
The silver lining has been Hasselbeck’s ability to step in and, in his words, “hold the fort’’ in Luck’s absence. Hasselbeck, 40, is the league’s oldest non-kicker. He’s 3-0 as a starter and has joined Brett Favre and Warren Moon as the only quarterbacks since the 1970 merger to win three consecutive starts after reaching 40.
“He’s doing awesome,’’ Luck said.
Meanwhile, Luck does what he can to lend a hand. He was on the sideline Georgia Dome Sunday offering counsel as Hasselbeck led the Colts to a 24-21 victory. And he’s at every practice, again, doing whatever possible when he isn’t immersed in rehab work.
“He’s been very helpful,’’ Hasselbeck said, adding Luck is “always working. As you guys know, he doesn’t do anything passively.
“It wouldn’t surprise me to see him with an exercise bike next to the huddle some day. He’s a hard worker.’’
Taking it slow while the kidney heals is taxing Luck’s patience.
“It’s no fun,’’ he admitted. “But it’s also the reality of where you are. You chip in. You help out. The last thing you want to be is sort of an energy-drag on people.
“There’s no point in wallowing in self-pity. That’s probably one of the first lessons you learn in team sports. Always was (number) one, get yourself healthy, but more importantly, it’s help the team. Be a cheerleader and be whatever Matt needs me to be for him.’’
Luck insisted moving forward he’ll be more conscious of protecting himself when scrambling, but indicated the situation against the Broncos required an aggressive approach.
“I realize there’s a time and place for taking a hit,’’ he said. “I guess I’m not going to apologize in that sense. Sometimes it is appropriate.
“But sliding is part of the game I still need to improve on. We’ve talked about this. It’s no secret.’’