Colts quarterback Andrew Luck continues to miss practice with a lingering calf injury. His head coach, Frank Reich, continues to not know when Luck will return to practice. And Luck continues to speak optimistically about his ability to return in time for the regular-season opener. Even if he has very real concerns about the injury fully and finally healing by then.
Peter King of Football Morning in America asked Luck is he has any doubt about his ability to play. Luck said, “No.” And then he said things that convey he actually has some degree of doubt.
“I certainly believe I will [be ready],” Luck told King. “That’s certainly the goal. . . . At times I do worry about it. It can be frustrating. The arc of an injury, whether it’s a big surgical one or something you’re rehabbing through. But no, because I’ve improved. Maybe I’m not improving as fast as I want and missing things is no fun. It eats at you. But I do know at the end of the day if I’m getting the most out of myself, if I’m being the best I can that day, then that’s what I need to do.”
The injury emerged in April, and it supposedly was healed before training camp opened. As King notes, Luck has had three MRIs, but it was never found to be anything more than a strain.
Reich, a career backup quarterback who thrived when called upon to do so, has no concerns about using Jacoby Brissett, if need be.
“I really don’t lay awake at night thinking about it,” Reich told King. “When our players have injuries, I’m not the guy who’s asking every five minutes how they’re doing. That’s just the way I am. Part of that is because I think my 14 years of experience as a player . . . I know he wants to be there as bad as anybody. Me asking him every five minutes how he’s doing doesn’t help anything.”
It’s surprising that Reich isn’t at least a little bit antsy, given the plans he has for Luck in 2019.
“I don’t know if he’s ever been in an offense that wants to turn him loose like we’re going to turn him loose this year,” Reich said. “I use this illustration. It’s like if you’re playing a video game and there’s all these easy targets, worth 100 points. Every now and then there’s this little target that pops up and it just flashes for a brief second. It’s really small. That’s worth 1,000 points. And in NFL football, that’s what happens all the time. These little targets come up. The great ones can hit those 1,000-point targets. As a coach, I don’t know when they’re going to come up. Only he knows. So you want a guy pulling the trigger who can see them and know when it’s worth it to try to hit them, then go for them.”
For now, Luck can’t go for them — and he can’t even make the preseason preparations that will best equip him to go for them. A year after Luck addressed all concerns about his health with a series of exclamation points, the stubborn question marks are back, and it’s hard not to wonder whether the bulk of his career will be punctuated by one stubborn injury situation after another, until the man who turns 30 in one month and one week decides he’s had one injury too many, and moves on.