Until today, the last time anyone outside of the Colts organization saw Andrew Luck throw a football was October 12th, 2017. Since that time, the recovery and rehabilitation process has been largely kept quiet and has primarily taken place behind closed doors. A trip to the Netherlands for rehabilitation and strength training during the 2017 season kicked off the veil of secrecy and growing intrigue. Since that time, photographs detailing his physique and comparing them to pictures that were taken last spring following his surgery, along with rumors about throwing experts in California have been all there was to keep the Colts fan base and members of the media going.
I mean, who knew the first things about throwing weighted balls to recover from elbow and shoulder injuries before the Andrew Luck saga? My guess? A select group of baseball fans, primarily in and around Seattle.
While there are some who will point out that Luck threw today with high school regulation sized football, it is arguably far more important that the team and Luck are comfortable allowing him to take the next step in his return to football — and allowing him to do so in front of the watchful eye of fans and the media. Needless to say, Luck learned a lot about himself and what happens if he tries to push too hard when he started tossing long passes last October. The team certainly would want to avoid the embarrassment of having him suffer another setback.
It is also worth pointing out that while high school footballs are slightly smaller than NFL regulation size, they are very similar in terms of overall weight. Additionally, Luck confirmed today that throwing has been a regular part of his rehabilitation and strengthening program for quite some time now. He has graduated from tennis balls, to very small footballs, to weighted balls, to overhand serves with a tennis racket, and is now throwing high school footballs in practice — publicly.
More progress for 1⃣2⃣.— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) June 12, 2018
"I believe I’m going to be better than I was. I really, really do." pic.twitter.com/i1SDsJKaFA
The best part of this news is that the expectation at this point is for Luck to be a regular participant in practice and for him to continue ramping up his throwing program. Indy Star’s Stephen Holder provides us with expectations for Luck moving forward, heading into training camp, and moving into the preseason.
Luck is going to have a scaled back practice schedule for training camp. He will skip some days and they will keep close tabs on his number of throws. (5)— Stephen Holder (@HolderStephen) June 12, 2018
Make no mistake, Luck has a long way to go. But myself and others pressed him on how he knows he'll be ready for camp. He insists his workflow is mapped out to the T through late July. And he's experiencing no real pain at this point, which he would be if there were issues (6)— Stephen Holder (@HolderStephen) June 12, 2018
One thing today reinforced is Luck can in fact throw. Not only that, he HAS been throwing for a couple months. He's been throwing weighted balls, smaller footballs and even doing tennis serves because it mimics a throwing motion. His shoulder has been getting plenty of work (7)— Stephen Holder (@HolderStephen) June 12, 2018
The first thing that comes to mind as it relates to Luck’s progress and training camp is that there is an expectation that Luck will have some days off in training camp. Previously, Luck had mentioned hopes to have the governor off for training camp and so it begs the question — is there a reason to believe that Luck isn’t as far along as he hoped to be? Holder answered that question on Twitter.
Well, that’s not completely accurate. He said he plans to go full go in camp but will mix in some days off. https://t.co/R1BZGxAao4— Stephen Holder (@HolderStephen) June 12, 2018
There has also been a bit of speculation about whether or not Luck has been throwing a regulation football at all and if so, when he started. At this point, Kevin Bowen has clarified that he did throw an NFL regulation sized football a couple of weeks ago with Frank Reich. He has not been regularly throwing “the Duke” as a part of his throwing program.
Reich clarified that the only time Luck has thrown ‘The a Duke’ was when the two played catch a few weeks back.— Kevin Bowen (@KBowen1070) June 12, 2018
No actual workouts for Luck have been with throwing an NFL-sized football.
Again, while this could be read as a bit of a mixed bag of good news with some reasons to keep expectations in check, there is more positive that has come from the conversations with Luck today. For one, not only does Luck expect to start Week 1 of the regular season against the Bengals, Frank Reich says that it is the team’s intention to allow Luck to play in the preseason as well.
Frank Reich says Andrew Luck will play in the preseason.— Kevin Bowen (@KBowen1070) June 12, 2018
Although the head coach isn’t a fan of his starting QB playing that much during August.
Take it for what it's worth. Asked Andrew Luck if he'll be ready for Sept. 9 opener vs. Cincy. "Absolutely. No knock on wood. I’ll be playing. I believe it in my bones.’’— Mike Chappell (@mchappell51) June 12, 2018
Colts fans have certainly been down this path before. It is entirely fair to have doubts or to feel that the team and even Luck are entirely unable to make any legitimate promises about his ability to start the regular season. There is certainly the risk of suffering a setback, though Luck admits that he is not experiencing pain the way he did last October. He feels that he would be experiencing pain at this point in his program if he was at risk of suffering a setback. We know that Luck is following a throwing program that will take him up to and through training camp and that he threw 15-20 times today, with a long throw of about 20 yards.
Andrew Luck exits practice. I’d say about 20-25 throws. As deep as 20 yards. He looked at ease.— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) June 12, 2018
Exactly what the Colts (not to mention their fans) wanted to see before minicamp breaks.
Don’t expect fans or the media to stop speculating on what this all means. You should completely expect that every step of his progress will be scrutinized until the regular season starts and likely until Indianapolis is winning football games and Luck is looking like he did in 2014 — leading the Colts to an AFC Championship game. We certainly cannot control all of that but one thing we can do, for today, is enjoy watching #12 throw a football again.