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Luck Still Isn’t Throwing a Football As Training Camp Inches Closer

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One of the things Frank Reich spoke briefly about at his press conference following day two of OTAs, was of course, Andrew Luck’s progress. We did not learn anything new per se, but Reich did say that Luck has not begun throwing a regulation football at this time. When pressed about whether or not he was worried, or if he thought Luck would have enough time to be ready for training camp, Reich said a couple things.

“From the time we finish, until the time we start in Westfield, is between 5 and 6 weeks, that’s plenty of time,”

“I’m completely comfortable with him throwing when he’s ready and the doctors say he’s ready. He’s totally engaged in every aspect of what we are doing mentally. The physical part for a guy like him, I think you’ve got to work at it. But I’m not worried about it. I’m comfortable with the process that is in place.

“I’m not worried at all.”

This confident rhetoric is right in line with everything we’ve heard coming out of Colts’ headquarters since the offseason began. I have a couple of concerns though, that don’t really seem fair to overlook. First, we heard this same message last season. Different coaching staff, but same confidence in Luck’s ability to be ready to go.

The trouble is that we know how that story ended. Luck wasn’t ready to go, and the Colts were unwatchable for most of 2017. Now I don’t intend to completely discount what we are hearing from Ballard and Reich. There are results at this time that are different than what we had this time last year.

For one, Andrew Luck looks like he could fit in with the linebacker group pretty effectively right now. That couldn’t be said of him last year at this time. While being able to lift a lot of weight doesn’t directly translate to being able to throw the football regularly all season, it certainly shows that his shoulder is able to withstand a grueling weight lifting regimen, which is an improvement.

Also, while Luck isn’t throwing a football, he has been throwing for a while. The size and weight of the balls he has been throwing is not entirely known to us, but we know that all the throwing he does will be with the goal of building up those support muscles and moving him closer each day to being able to handle the rigors of a full season of football.

I could speculate wildly about whether he will ever be able to return to top form, but the fact is that we just don’t know. There is not enough information at our disposal to make a definitive statement either way, and that won’t change until we start seeing him throwing a real football. Even then, until he is taking hits on the field and letting it rip for a whole season, part of me will continue wondering if he can stay healthy.

So let’s not have that conversation. Let’s deal with another of Frank Reich’s assertions, that 5-6 weeks is “plenty of time” to get ready for training camp. Is that enough time? The conclusion of the mandatory minicamp is June 14th. Reich stated that he expected Luck’s throwing to ramp up leading up to training camp, and that he would be ready to go at that time. Dan Orlovsky thinks so, but I’m not sure.

With the regular season starting for the Colts on September 9th, that means that if Luck begins throwing “The Duke” immediately upon the end of that mandatory minicamp, he will have just under three months of throwing with it under his belt before the regular season kicks off.

According to Dr. David Chao, that’s the minimum amount of throwing with a real football that is needed to have any kind of certainty about Luck’s recovery. While many can argue about that amount of time, most will agree that if Luck hasn’t started throwing real footballs by then, he will really be under the gun to be ready by the start of the season.

But there is another issue. Wholly apart from having spent the better part of two years not throwing to receivers, Andrew Luck will be expected to lead a completely new and different style of offense. This offense is one that relies on receivers having a fast get-off, crisp route running, and great timing.

The thing about timing is that it comes from repetition. You play long enough with the receivers on your team to develop a feel for when each guy will hit their break. You know where and how they like the ball delivered. As you continue to get comfortable with them, you get better. Peyton Manning was a master at this and even he wasn’t immune to the effects of time away.

The best example, and we’ve used it many times, is when Manning missed all of training camp and the pre-season after having an infected bursa sac removed from his knee in 2008. As a result, he looked fairly mediocre through the first 7 games of the season. His dominance through the remaining 9 games earned him his 3rd MVP, but it took time to get there.

What this means, is that Luck really needs to be ready for training camp. He needs to be ready to go for the preseason. Implementing a new offense and developing good chemistry and timing with his young receivers will take a lot of repetitions, and that can’t happen if he is not good to go. It is great that he is fully engaged in the mental part of learning and running the various plays, but he needs time throwing to truly be ready.

I fully expect that the very second that Luck begins a throwing regimen with real footballs, the Colts will be shouting it from the rooftops for all to hear. If that moment doesn’t come by the middle of June, it could be pretty tough to get excited about this team’s potential. For my part, I remain optimistic, but like everyone else, I’d love to be done talking about Luck’s shoulder and get back to watching him put up incredible highlights.

Poll

What do you think? How does this story end?

This poll is closed

  • 29%
    Your guess is as good as mine.
    (400 votes)
  • 42%
    Luck is ready for training camp and has an MVP caliber season.
    (587 votes)
  • 16%
    Luck is able to make it back to play this season, but he is never the same player.
    (226 votes)
  • 11%
    Luck is done. All is lost. Everything is meaningless.
    (159 votes)
1372 votes total Vote Now