INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Dec. 30, 2015) – Since it’s a ridiculously-crowded quarterback room at the Indianapolis Colts’ Northwestside complex, a quick roll call is required.
Pay attention, this figures to get a little confusing:
Andrew Luck: Barring the Colts’ hitting the lottery and reaching the playoffs, his fourth season is over. The latest scan of Luck’s lacerated kidney revealed it’s still not 100 percent. He’s been ruled out of Sunday’s regular-season finale against the Tennessee Titans at Lucas Oil Stadium.
“Getting better but not good enough to go out and play a football game,’’ he said. “I am disappointed. I was very hopeful and optimistic about getting back to play this week, I really was.
“Unfortunately, it hasn’t healed. Simple story.’’
The Colts are keeping Luck and Matt Hasselbeck on the active roster just in case they’re holding the winning lottery ticket Sunday.
“If we make it, hopefully I can get a clean scan and a go-ahead from the docs,’’ Luck said.
Matt Hasselbeck: Coach Chuck Pagano listed him doubtful on Monday after he suffered a Grade-1 sprain to his right shoulder in Sunday’s win at Miami. That might have been overly-optimistic. Four quarterbacks practiced Wednesday, and Hasselbeck wasn’t one of them.
“Am I ruled out? I hope I’m not ruled out,’’ he said. “It’s just the shoulder. I know exactly what the injury is, it’s just that I haven’t tested it yet.
“It’s responding really, really well. It’s responding quickly. We could possibly numb it up on Sunday. We’ll see.’’
One interesting caveat to Hasselbeck’s storyline. He’s been so impressed by his level of play at the age of 40, prior to the rib injury at Pittsburgh, that he hasn’t ruled out playing in 2016. He’ll be a free agent at the end of the season.
“Next year, maybe for sure,’’ Hasselbeck said. “If you ask me on a Sunday after the game with an ice pack on my shoulder, it’s probably not the time to get the best response from me. (But) I’m encouraged about the possibility.’’
Josh Freeman: The 2009 first-round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers could be the front-runner to start against the Titans, although the decision might not be made until Sunday. For historical purposes, Freeman would be only the second black quarterback to start for the Colts, and the first since George Taliaferro started three games in 1953. Ricky Turner got into four games off the bench during the ’87 strike season.
The Colts brought Freeman in for a workout and physical Monday, and announced his signing Tuesday.
“These guys bring me in and I don’t take that lightly,’’ he said. “They look at me as a guy that could potentially help them. I’m really excited about giving them everything I have.’’
Freeman is 24-36 as a starter, and last started with the Bucs in 2013. In 61 career games, he’s passed for 13,724 yards with 80 touchdowns and 67 interceptions.
Ryan Lindley: Like Freeman, he’s cramming to learn the offense. Lindley was in New York for the holidays when the Colts dialed him up Monday. He and Freeman shared the majority of the reps with the No. 1 offense Wednesday.
“I think we can all take a snap and we can all communicate,’’ Lindley said. “It’s just a matter of getting ourselves on the same page, and there’s a lot of moving pieces in the National Football League.’’
Lindley has appeared in nine games and is 1-5 as a starter. He was forced into the starting lineup for Arizona in January when the Cardinals dropped a 27-16 decision to Carolina in a wild-card playoff game. He completed 16-of-28 passes for 82 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.
Stephen Morris: The second-year QB out of Miami appears to be third in line against the Titans. He started 30 games for the Hurricanes, but has yet to step on the field in an NFL game. The Colts signed him to their active roster off Philadelphia’s practice squad last week.
Charlie Whitehurst: His season ended Monday when the team placed him on the injured reserve list with a Grade-2 hamstring strain. While players were warming up Wednesday, Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire’’ blared in the team’s indoor facility.
“We played a little Johnny Cash for Charlie Whitehurst in memory of him,’’ Pagano said with a smile. “He’s a country-western fan.’’
The list is long and might be historic. The Colts have had seven quarterbacks on the active roster this year; Josh Johnson came and went, twice in fact. The number swells to 10 if you count practice squad or training camp QBs: Alex Tanney, Matt Blanchard and Bryan Bennett.
Pagano shared a discussion he had with running back Frank Gore.
“I think Frank asked me, ‘Looks like we should be in Anderson. It’s like training camp,’’’ Pagano said of the quarterbacks on the practice field.
He was asked if the Colts’ latest QB quandary – Freeman or Lindley – wasn’t a fitting end to the season. Symbolic?
“Yeah. The ‘coup de grace,’’’ he replied.
Pagano might have inadvertently nailed it.
The actual definition of ‘coup de grace’: used to describe the deathblow intended to end the suffering of a mortally wounded victim; an action or event that finally ends or destroys something that has been getting weaker or worse; a hit or shot that kills a person or animal that is suffering.
That about sums it up.