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Jim Irsay, Chris Ballard, and Frank Reich discuss expectations for Luck

NFL: Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

A full year later and we are still left with projections for Andrew Luck’s future. The difference between now and March of 2017 is that Luck has been working for months on rehabilitating his throwing shoulder, working on strength, and working on his throwing motion.

While Jim Irsay confidently proclaimed that Luck would be ready for the start of the 2017 NFL season, that never happened. The rest of the front office was not willing to put a timetable on his return. Now, it appears that everyone agrees Luck is expected to participate in workouts this April.

Irsay expects that Luck will not only participate during the off-season program but that he will actively throw a football — we assume of the NFL regulation variety.

I expect him to throw quite a bit. I expect him to kind of channel his Brett Favre, if you will, and just say, ‘The hell with it. Let’s go play football.

In terms of Luck’s future moving forward, Irsay took a more measured approach by acknowledging the possibility of having to move forward without Luck is he is unable to recover.

We all know the importance of Andrew and the health of his shoulder coming around. Can we get it done, if that doesn’t happen, and it’s an extended period of where we are working our way through that and it’s still taking longer than we thought? Sure, we can.

But all indicators are that healing is going very well and we feel really optimistic that he’s turned the corner and has a full decade ahead of him of excellence.

Ultimately, little has changed in terms of Irsay’s confidence in Luck or his expectations for the future. He acknowledges that the team must be prepared to move forward without his franchise quarterback if it comes to that but he expects that Luck will make a full recovery, will throw the ball regularly during the off-season program, and will have another decade of high level NFL football ahead of him after he returns.

Addressing one of the more awkward situations for fans, the fact that Andrew Luck has not yet started throwing a football, Chris Ballard provided additional details about the training regimen Luck is going through to hopefully improve his throwing motion.

They are really working on tying his lower body with his upper body, which I know a lot of pitchers and quarterbacks in the league have done. For him, it’s not learning how to throw, because his upper body mechanics will be the same. It’s more of training his lower body mechanics.

When you start with a smaller ball, it’s easier with muscle memory to start ramping it up. He’s excited. We are not going to have him out there throwing 150 balls a day. We are going to limit how he feels and how they are training him and doing it the right way.

We have already discussed that Luck has been working with a very well-respected group of throwing mechanics specialists during the off-season. If this is their approach to getting him ready for the training camp and the NFL season, so be it. Still, there is little doubt that fans will expect to have reports and possibly see video of Luck throwing the football during off-season workout to start having confidence in his return.

Head coach Frank Reich was the first to report that Luck has returned to throwing footballs, before he later corrected that they were not NFL regulation in size. Still, listening to his comments in Florida it is pretty clear that Reich’s expects that Luck will be his quarterback this season.

When you look at his skillset, you have everything. You’ve got size, strength, intelligence, extend plays in the pocket, extend plays out of the pocket, having the intelligence to get the offense in the right (position), be a good decision maker, protect the football, leadership, team-first.

It’s incredibly exciting because you know he’s not only a talented player, but he’s got the kind of character, the kind of backbone, the kind of toughness that you really want to be part of the leadership of the team.

The next four to six weeks will play a big role in figuring out just how far along Andrew Luck is in his rehabilitation. We will be monitoring the commentary from Irsay, Ballard, and the coaching staff during this time to see if anything changes. The more they are willing to discuss his shoulder and his status, the more likely it is that he is in a good position to return in 2018. The more they deflect the topic, the less confidence fans will feel about his future.