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Andrew Luck returns to practice on Thursday

Houston Texans v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

In a season full of bad news, there’s a bit of good news for the Indianapolis Colts today: quarterback Andrew Luck was back at practice.

He reportedly appeared to be keeping to his normal Thursday routine (which is being a limited participant), but he was at least back at work after not practicing yesterday due to shoulder and elbow soreness. Chuck Pagano said yesterday that Luck “is sore” and “he got whacked around pretty good last week. He should be okay. Time will tell.” He wouldn’t say whether Luck would return to practice on Thursday, but obviously we now know that the quarterback was back.

That’s good news for the Colts, as the last thing they need is for their franchise player to be hurt. They’re essentially out of the playoff race, but they absolutely don’t need their best player dealing with injuries in the final three weeks, considering those circumstances. So it’s a good sign that Luck is back.

This Colts team could look quite different on Sunday, however, especially along the offensive line. Neither Denzelle Good (concussion) nor Joe Reitz (back) were spotted during the media portion of practice, which casts doubt on their availability for Sunday’s game against the Vikings. If neither of them are able to go, that would be two “starters” out, along with left guard Jack Mewhort, who was placed on IR earlier this week. So the Colts could be dealing with a major offensive line shake-up this week, as if neither Good nor Reitz are able to go it might mean the line would look something like this: Anthony Castonzo at left tackle, Jonotthan Harrison at left guard, Ryan Kelly at center, and then either Austin Blythe at right guard and Joe Haeg at right tackle or Joe Haeg at right guard and Le’Raven Clark at right tackle. There are plenty of options the Colts could try (and the best option is probably the one that doesn’t include Clark starting), but no situation would be ideal - especially since Luck has been dealing with soreness.

Furthermore, wide receiver Donte Moncrief (hamstring) wasn’t spotted at practice for the second straight day. On the positive side, outside linebacker Robert Mathis (bicep) and tight end Dwayne Allen (hip) both appeared to be back to work on at least a limited basis.

So to sum all of that up, we know for sure that four starters won’t play this week, as inside linebacker D’Qwell Jackson is suspended and safety Clayton Geathers, cornerback Patrick Robinson, and left guard Jack Mewhort were placed on IR this week. And then if right guard Denzelle Good, right tackle Joe Reitz, and wide receiver Donte Moncrief miss Sunday’s game, and since they all appeared to miss practice today there’s a decent chance, that would bring the total to seven starters out. That’s definitely not good, especially with several others - like Andrew Luck, Robert Mathis, and Dwayne Allen, to name a few - also banged up. The Colts are a team that’s dealing with a lot of injuries, which makes their incredibly slim playoff hopes even slimmer.