Andrew Luck will start at quarterback tonight for the Indianapolis Colts. He threw more in practice this week, he was a full participant on Friday, owner Jim Irsay and head coach Chuck Pagano both said they expect him to play, the Colts haven't signed a third quarterback, and multiple reports earlier this morning confirmed that Luck was expected to play.
Though we know that the Colts' franchise quarterback will be on the field tonight, the question remains of whether he will be at full strength or not. After all, details have been very hard to come by regarding Luck's injury, and he was still listed as questionable on Friday after back-to-back days of being limited in practice. Is he fully healthy, or just healthy enough to return to the field?
According to owner Jim Irsay, Luck is 100% and ready to go. Speaking with WTHR for a pre-game feature, Irsay confirmed that Luck is going to play and added that he is fully healthy, as the team has been cautious with his health recently.
"I think he's feeling right there at 100 percent,'' Irsay told WTHR. "With the rest he's had and now being back on schedule, he should be fine. We've been very cautious with him. He wanted to go last week but we talked internally and we decided - you remember how Peyton played with that broken jaw - but we felt this was a little bit different so we were very cautious but we feel like he's trending in the right direction and should be fine. No question, he can air it out 70 yards, can throw it on the run, do all those sorts of things. We wouldn't want him out there if he didn't have his full arsenal.''
This corroborates what NFL Media's Ian Rapoport said earlier this morning when he said that Luck could have played last Thursday night if they really needed him to. Of course, you'd think that a backup quarterback dealing with an illness that landed him in the hospital earlier in the week would have meant the Colts needed Luck to play, but Matt Hasselbeck did a good job nonetheless. It seems as if the Colts were playing things very safe and being cautious, which is a smart thing to do with the franchise quarterback. Luck missed two games with the shoulder injury, but in doing so the Colts got him a couple of weeks of rest and a couple of division wins.
The Colts need Andrew Luck at full strength and playing very well tonight if they hope to have any shot at even keeping it close to the New England Patriots, but the most important thing is not rushing him back too quickly or putting him out there if he's not ready. That's why it's comforting to hear Jim Irsay insist that his quarterback is 100% and fully healthy heading into tonight's big Sunday Night Football matchup.