Colts franchise quarterback Andrew Luck returned to practice on Wednesday, but head coach Chuck Pagano isn't playing any games with anyone about his quarterback's status. Pagano announced at his press conference that Andrew Luck will NOT play this Sunday against the Houston Texans.
Pagano said that Luck was limited in practice on Wednesday and only did individual work and throwing vs. air, as he has not yet been cleared for 11-on-11 work - meaning that he's not yet 100%. Once the doctors clear him for 11-on-11, that's when the Colts will decide whether or not Luck can play, but Pagano made it clear that Luck hasn't yet been cleared to do that work. "As soon as the doctors say, ‘you're 100% and you can start participating in 11-on-11 drills, team drills,' then I'm sure that'll be the point when then we make the decision on when we bring him back and put him on the field," Pagano said. He added that it's not a day-by-day evaluation and that he's not sure when the next evaluation will take place.
With Luck now officially out, it looks to be Matt Hasselbeck as the starter once again for the Colts for the fifth straight game - if he is healthy. Hasselbeck didn't practice on Wednesday with a rib injury, but Pagano maintained that they are hopeful Hasselbeck will be able to practice on Thursday. With all of that said, Pagano does expect Hasselbeck to be able to play on Sunday.
Despite that, Pagano also noted that they're working with Charlie Whitehurst in case they need to go that route, though the expectation at this point is that it will be Hasselbeck. "I think it would not be very wise on our part if we didn't do that," Pagano said. "Just like we did last week and the week before. So with every day, with every practice - he took every team rep, basically, today, which was great for him and his maturation, his understanding of the offense, the communication, the language, timing, all that stuff. So it was good and we'll continue to prepare him just as we've done since he's been here."
In short, Pagano's press conference today took a lot of the mystery and intrigue out of the Colts' quarterback decision for this weekend, as Andrew Luck will not play but Matt Hasselbeck is expected to. Despite that fact, it's encouraging news that Luck was back to practice on Wednesday, something that was good for the team to see but most of all good for Luck. "Yeah it was [encouraging], especially for him," Pagano said. "Anytime you're sidelined like that and you're away from the game and you can't compete and you can't just get out there and run around a little bit, jog, and play a little throw and catch, it kills you. So it was great for all of us and especially Andrew."