INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay cannot “unequivocally” say that starting quarterback Andrew Luck will play in their Week 1 opener against the Los Angeles Rams on Sept. 10.
Irsay, like general manager Chris Ballard, believes Luck will be off the physically unable to perform list before the start of the regular season. But playing against the Rams is still up in the air, especially because Luck needs practice time once he is taken off of PUP.
“I don’t want to act that it is a foregone conclusion that he’s not going to be starting out there [against the Rams],” Irsay said after his team’s 24-10 preseason loss to the Detroit Lions on Sunday. “I mean, he could but also could not. We don’t see an extended delay, but we’re not going to put a timetable on it. We will not put any pressure on this decision.”
Luck originally injured his right shoulder in Week 3 of the 2015 season. He played through the shoulder pain until he finally had the surgery in January. Irsay said they waited as long as they could before deciding on surgery and wouldn’t do things any differently.
“There’s no mystery to it, and that’s the good news about it,” Irsay said. “There hasn’t been one surprise to [the shoulder] from our standpoint. We always knew it was going to be a borderline thing. We wanted to be sure before we did the surgery. Once we were committed to doing it, things couldn’t have gone more successfully.”
Luck, who has missed 10 games the past two seasons, has admitted that his patience has been tested throughout this process of not being able to practice or take part in offseason workouts. Irsay had to remind his franchise quarterback that he has to think about his long-term health and not let his “competitive juices” get the best of him.
Ballard said during the preseason television broadcast on Sunday that Luck’s “strength levels are probably better right now than they were in the last season that he played.” Luck has started the throwing process, but the Colts have restricted how much he’s doing it to avoid a setback.
“It’s a progression where he’s not throwing the football as strong as he wants to because we won’t let him,” Ballard said. “He can throw it a lot stronger than he’s throwing it. This is our future that’s 10, 12, 14 years — who knows? We will not deviate from being disciplined in our process on how the doctors feel and how Andrew feels. He said it best to me. He said, ‘Jim, I know I’m going to be an even better quarterback than I’ve ever been before. I just don’t know when.’ That could be Sept. 10. It could be Sept. 20. We’ll see.”
Scott Tolzien, who has been the starting quarterback since Luck went down, hasn’t shown the consistency yet that is necessary to believe he can lead the Colts on a regular basis until Luck returns. The Colts discussed the possibility of bringing in another quarterback but decided to stand pat with Tolzien for the time being.
“We came semi-close to bringing in a mid- to late-30s guy,” Irsay said. “We had a number. The guy wanted more than the number. It wasn’t [Colin] Kaepernick. It didn’t work out, so we moved on. We like some things, like some guys that are on the roster.”