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Is Andrew Luck playing hurt?

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The talk about whether Colts quarterback Andrew Luck is playing hurt has ramped up today. But is it accurate? Let's not freak out yet.

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The Indianapolis Colts offense has been struggling for much of the season, outside of a phenomenal fourth quarter comeback against the Titans led by quarterback Andrew Luck.  Luck has been one of the biggest problems through the first few games, however, and could it be that he's playing hurt?

There's nothing definitive right now, nor is there any report about it, but the talk is there: is Luck hurt?

And then there's the video of Luck appearing to wince when hit in the chest by backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck on the sidelines that has added fuel to the fire.  Before everyone freaks out, however, let me share a few calming thoughts about all of this talk of an injury:

  • If Andrew Luck were playing with injured ribs (something some have wondered after seeing that video that CBS captured), wouldn't his closest friend on the team, Matt Hasselbeck, know about it?  And wouldn't he have the sense of mind to not pat him on the chest if that were the case?  I think the video doesn't really give us much "evidence" at all that Luck is injured, as it's suspect at best as to determine what happened in that video.
  • Don't rule it out, but don't believe it yet either.  When it was first reported (by Stampede Blue, I might add) that Peyton Manning was playing injured years ago, nobody believed it.  And it's because fans just don't like to believe things like this, so I'd caution not to completely dismiss this as stupid or excuse making.  BUT, with that said, don't believe it quite yet.  There's no report or anything like that, but instead just speculation.  Something is up with Luck, but is it an injury?  We really have no idea other than speculation.  So wait for something more substantial to believe this or freak out.
  • It's conceivable that Luck could be injured, given the fact that he gets hit more than any quarterback in the NFL.  Remember, after the Colts lost in the playoffs in 2012, Ryan Grigson wrote a note to himself that read, "Protect 12."  He's kept that in his office since then, but he hasn't been able to do that yet.  Luck has still been hit often and is still under a lot of pressure, including this year.  The offensive line hasn't been good this year yet again, and at some point these hits will add up.
  • Injury or not, it's not an excuse for Luck's play.  He did fine in the fourth quarter of the game against the Titans, leading the Colts back from a big deficit to win the game.  But furthermore, some of his mistakes have just been stupid decisions.  There's no other way to label it but that.  Some of the mistakes could be attributed to an injury if indeed we find out that is the case, but more of them can simply be attributed to bad decisions and bad plays.
Those are some of my initial thoughts on the talk about whether Luck is playing injured.  I'm not ruling it out, but I'm also not believing it yet.  I'd encourage you to do the same - not freaking out yet, but keeping this on your radar in case we learn something more down the road.

UPDATE: Andrew Luck addressed the rumors that he is playing injured on Monday, saying that "you feel bumps and bruises" as a result of playing a physical sport but saying that he doesn't expect to be on the injury report this week.

UPDATE: Chuck Pagano confirmed that Andrew Luck was limited in practice on Wednesday with an injury to his throwing shoulder.  Luck is day to day and Pagano is "supremely confident" the quarterback will play Sunday.