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The Journal Gazette

  • Associated Press Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck throws during practice Wednesday. Luck stretched, ran some quarterback drills and threw light passes in his return to the football field.

Thursday, October 05, 2017 1:00 am

Luck returns to field

Workload limited as star QB rehabs from shoulder surgery

MICHAEL MAROT | Associated Press

Colts vs. 49ers

When: 1 p.m. Sunday

Where: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis

TV: Fox

Radio: 1190 AM

INDIANAPOLIS – Andrew Luck put on his familiar red No. 12 jersey, trotted onto the practice field and got back into his normal Wednesday routine.

A little stretching, a little footwork, even a little throwing.

Even he figured it's about time.

After missing all of the Indianapolis Colts' offseason workouts, all of training camp, all of the preseason and Indianapolis' first four regular-season games, the Colts' quarterback made his long-awaited appearance on the practice field.

“It was fun to be back on the field and put on a jersey and a helmet and get to go out there and throw a couple passes with the guys,” Luck said in his first comments since July 29.

His workload will still be limited.

Luck was cleared to stretch with teammates, participate in some quarterback drills and throw a few passes at less than full velocity. He's expected to do more rehab work today, a continuation of the day on-day off throwing regimen he's been given, before returning to practice Friday.

Coach Chuck Pagano has already said Luck won't play Sunday against winless San Francisco.

“There's a pitch count and we've got it scripted exactly how many routes he'll throw, inside the number throws, outside the numbers, deep down the field throws, all that stuff,” Pagano said. “So we'll evaluate every one of them.”

Eventually, Luck is expected to work his way back into football shape on the scout team.

Still, it is progress.

Since having surgery for a partially torn labrum in his throwing shoulder in January, Luck hadn't participated in any team drills or even thrown a pass to any of his teammates.

At times, Luck said, the recovery process has been frustrating. He even sought advice from New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees, who had shoulder surgery before signing with the Saints in 2006.

But early last week, there were indications things were changing. Pagano said there was “a chance” Luck could practice last week only to later acknowledge the doctors said no.

The excitement started building again Monday when general manager Chris Ballard told the team's local radio show there was a plan for Luck to take snaps this week.

So when Luck was given the all-clear, teammates sounded almost as excited as the fans to see Luck back on the field.

“He's one of the reasons I came here,” running back Frank Gore said. “To have him back in uniform, throwing the ball around, that's a good thing. That's our leader, man I respect him a whole lot.”

Without the three-time Pro Bowler, the Colts (1-3) have struggled.

Backup Scott Tolzien was benched after throwing two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns in a season-opening road loss to the Rams.

New starter Jacoby Brissett, acquired from New England, had an interception and a fumble returned for touchdowns Sunday night in Seattle, and his interception on the first play of overtime also set up Arizona's winning field goal in Week 2.

Now after months of speculation about Luck's return to practice, everyone wants to know when he will be ready to play. Nobody has established a timetable.

“I think that's unfair to me, to myself,” Luck said before explaining he does expect to play this season.

“I wish I would wake up tomorrow morning and the whole thing was a dream,” Luck said.

“But I know that's not the case, that's not the reality and I understood when I elected to have surgery not to be surprised by anything and to understand this was going to be a long process – a really, really long process.”

Notes: Indianapolis got more good news when Ryan Kelly was cleared to play Sunday. Kelly returned to practice last week after having August surgery for a broken foot. He will step back into his starting role after Deyshawn Bond was placed on season-ending injured reserve with a torn tendon in his quad. ... The Colts also have signed center Mike Person and guard Kyle Kalis to the active roster and released inside linebacker Sean Spence. Kalis was on Washington's practice squad. ... Tight end Jack Doyle is going through the concussion protocol. ... Linebacker Anthony Walker (hamstring) and running back Marlon Mack (shoulder), both rookies, returned to practice Wednesday. ... Rookie cornerback Quincy Wilson (knee) was a limited participant.