While the biggest news of the day is that Andrew Luck will not return to practice this week, it is important to clarify that Chuck Pagano never made any promises. In the post-game press conference he was asked about Luck:
Will Andrew Luck practice at all this week?
It’s too early right now to tell. He’s making great progress. It’s the same report. I wish I had more to give you. I don’t anticipate it, but who knows?
He followed that comment up with the most encouraging quote that we’ve heard in his opening statement on Monday, with what amounted to some semblance of a possible time frame:
Andrew (Luck) (is) progressing well, getting stronger. There might be a chance – I’ll know more probably Wednesday. He might be able to start some practice this week, but I’m not guaranteeing nothing so don’t write anything that, ‘Hey, he’s going to be out at practice.’ There’s a possibility. When our doctors and our trainers tell me that he’s at a point where he can get back out there and begin to practice, then I’ll be able to tell you for sure, but he’s doing well.
Of course, anytime there is a chance that he could practice this week, it gives reason to feel that he’s made significant progress in his rehabilitation and strengthening program. Naturally that is exciting and represents something resembling a light at the end of the tunnel.
While Pagano did give us the unfortunate news that Luck will not practice this week, he committed to the first relevant timeline that anyone with any real knowledge of the situation readily could make — Irsay’s comments were so early in the healing process that they were made out of optimism ... call him a liar if you feel you need to do so. Today, Pagano said:
Andrew (Luck) to start out will not practice this week. He’s still a week away as far as his throwing progression and things like that. We’ll keep him out of practice this week and hopefully integrate him back in next week.
While he did include the word “hopefully” in his comments, you get the impression that he is 1) close and 2) that the team/Luck might have even made a choice on whether to push it or not this week — “we’ll keep him out of practice this week.”
I would not be surprised if, despite these comments, the media sees Luck throwing the ball publicly on the sidelines or with trainers at some point before the weekend. This is purely speculative, but I’m getting the impression that we’re really close to seeing him take the football field (in practice).
For those who are hoping that the media pressed Pagano on the issue as to what would have changed from Monday:
What changed in Andrew Luck’s status from Monday to today?
Nothing changed. We said we were hopeful, right?
He’s doing great. There was no setback. Nothing changed. We were hopeful, it didn’t work out.
The other important news is there this is a strong likelihood that Vontae Davis will return to the football field Sunday night. He will join Rashaan Melvin and Nate Hairston as the likely starting group in nickel packages. Melvin is off to a hot start in 2017 and is currently tied for first in the NFL in interceptions through three weeks with 2, and tied for first in the NFL with 6 pass breakups.
Center Ryan Kelly returned to practice on a limited basis. While it is too early to speak to his availability on Sunday, I get the impression that the Colts will err on the side of being conservative and try to be sure their best players are at or very close to 100% before they are thrown back into live game action. This makes it more likely that Kelly’s practice participation and time-frame could be similar to Vontae Davis — projecting him to start against the 49ers and not the Seahawks.
However, if he practices fully at any point this week, all bets are off.
Unfortunately, three young players: Chester Rogers, Quincy Wilson, and Marlon Mack did not practice today. It certainly does not bode well for their chances to suit up on Sunday. Interestingly, Pagano didn’t know for sure if Wilson would return to practice today so he should be closely monitored tomorrow. If he returns on a limited basis at least, he has a chance to be ready for the game.
Anthony Walker and Chris Milton also continued to sit out with hamstring injuries. We have no meaningful updates on either player. In fact, Walker wasn’t even mentioned in Pagano’s presser.
New to the injury list is Kamar Aiken who is in the concussion protocol after taking a big hit against the Browns. He wore a red no-contact jersey but did take the field. Jack Doyle was limited with a foot injury and Deyshawn Bond was also limited with an ankle. Both of those players need to progress throughout the week as the depth at either position is lacking.