INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – In a snapshot moment, it was as if nothing had happened, nothing had changed, nothing was wrong.
Andrew Luck, looking fit and flashing a smile, stood behind a podium Friday at the Indianapolis Colts’ Farm Bureau Football Center.
Then, the questions.
Then, the numbing reminder that a lot has happened and so much has changed, but perhaps things are on their way back to better times.
In his first media confab since Oct. 12, the most irreplaceable Colt addressed several topics. During his 15-minute press conference, Luck shared the doubts he’s wrestled with and the reason he relocated his rehab from Indy to the Netherlands.
Through it all, his optimism seemed genuine.
He doesn’t foresee his readiness for the 2018 season “being in jeopardy at all.’’
“I’m very optimistic,’’ Luck said. “I feel really good today. I do not think I need another surgery. I believe in the process that I’m in right now. I’ve gotten great help and hope to continue to get better.
“I plan on being ready for every, everything official, offseason, NFL schedule. I plan on being ready.’’
It must be noted, though, Luck flashed a similar confidence during the early phases of his initial rehab after undergoing January surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder.
In Luck’s absence – his sixth season became a complete washout when the team placed him on the injured reserve list Nov. 2 – the Colts bottomed out. They’ll take a 3-12 record into Sunday’s season-finale against the Houston Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Even though there’s on-field business to deal with, Luck’s health and return remains the overriding issue. The Colts are 43-27 with him under center, 9-16 when it’s been someone else.
During his give-and-take with the local media, Luck touched on several topics. He:
- Decided to relocate his on-going rehab to the Netherlands after determining he “was being pulled in too many directions and it was hard for me to keep my focus on just getting better and getting better and better, and I allowed myself to become a distraction, which I did not want to be.’’
- Decided his rehab was best served to proceed under the guidance of a therapist he had worked with in the past and “I trust very much.’’ Given several opportunities, he declined to give his therapist or the Netherlands’ clinic free publicity by naming them.
- Stressed his six-week stay in the Netherlands involved general rehab, strength training and soft-tissue work. There had been reports he went overseas to seek alternative medical treatment for his balky shoulder.
“Nothing crazy,’’ he said. “No injections, nothing out of the ordinary. No medical procedures . . . were done over there.’’
- Has not resumed throwing after having that phase of his rehab shut down by the Colts Oct. 18 when he experienced soreness and inflammation in his shoulder following four controlled throwing sessions with the team.
“Well, I’d like to start it as soon as I can,’’ Luck said. “Me feeling physically confident enough to get going. We are on a progression. I’m not going to put a date on it . . . as soon as I can.’’
- Does not believe follow-up, corrective surgery is required. That could threaten his availability for ’18.
“My gut and my feeling tells me that I do not need another surgery,’’ he said. “I think I need to work more and more time and to stay on this straight and narrow, if you will. I don’t want to sound like throwing is the test. I’m doing well and I will continue to do well.’’
Luck often offered a reflective glimpse of what he’s been through.
Clearly, missing the entire season has gnawed at him.
“Like any guy who is injured,’’ he said, “it’s not easy to watch your teammates go play. What I value the most is your teammates and going out there and competing with guys and playing against another team.
“To miss that is difficult. You do not feel like you are a part of the team. It feels weird, but I don’t feel like I’m part of this team right now and you can ask any guy that’s on IR.’’
Luck was asked if he ever wondered if he’d make it all the way back, ever return to the playing field, if his right arm would allow it.
“I’ve never entertained the thoughts that this is (career-ending),’’ he said. “Sure, it’s crossed my mind, but I don’t think that at all. At all.’’
And the “low point’’ of his on-again, off-again rehab? Luck paused for several seconds.
“There was a time probably a couple of weeks into being away from here, early December, that was pretty difficult for me to sort of see the positive in things,’’ he said. “I got through that, and managed to see the positives in things a little more.’’
Luck insisted his shoulder is “stronger, more stable,’’ and he’s “more confident in it’’ than he was in September.
It was in August that owner Jim Irsay seemed to question whether Luck’s rehab at that point had plateaued and was more a matter of him fighting through mental issues than physical ones. That’s when Irsay’s “between the ears’’ comments caught everyone’s attention.
Luck insisted Irsay’s comments “were maybe taken out of context a little bit.
“I’ve had a lot of discussions with Mr. Irsay and I come away each time feeling very impressed with how he’s handled this team and him as a person and very appreciative to have a guy like that on my side. It’s awesome.
“I think there are mental things that anybody who’s injured has to go through with any surgery – not just football, any part of life. That’s something you have to work through, and the frustration of not being out there is part of it.’’
Finally, Luck appeared surprised when asked if he wanted to clear up any speculation that he’s unhappy with the Colts.
“I was not aware of those, I guess rumors,’’ he said. “That’s not true. I’m very, very happy here.’’