Colts confident Luck will play vs Jags despite sore shoulder
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- The beating Andrew Luck has taken this season on the field is taking a toll.
Coach Chuck Pagano decided to give Luck most of Wednesday's practice off so he could rest his sore throwing shoulder. Pagano said it was only a precaution and that he expects Luck to play Sunday against Jacksonville.
"I'm not a witch doctor, I don't have a crystal ball. I just listen to the trainers and the doctors, but I wouldn't bet against 12, ever," Pagano said, referring to Luck's jersey number.
Just seeing Luck out of action was odd.
Since the Colts drafted him with the top overall pick in 2012, Luck has been one of the league's most durable players. He has started all 57 games, including the playoffs, and hasn't showed up on an injury report since late in his rookie season when he was listed with a knee injury. He doesn't even like taking plays off in practice.
Luck insists this injury is no big deal.
"There's always bumps and bruises that show up in high school, college and the NFL. You deal with stuff, you manage it," Luck said. "It's nothing more than that in my mind."
The bigger question might be how the Colts (1-2) would manage if Luck can't go.
Indy's offensive line played so poorly in the first two weeks that Pagano made three lineup changes at Tennessee. Luck was still sacked three times, hit four more times and Indy committed five holding penalties.
Luck, who was hit more than any quarterback in the league in 2013 and 2014, has already been sacked five times this season and taken 21 additional hits, according to STATS. The only quarterbacks hit as frequently as Luck are Philip Rivers (24), Ryan Tannehill (22) and Russell Wilson (21).
The constant pressure has led to some ugly results, too.
Luck leads the league with seven interceptions and is ranked 32nd in passer rating. Indy's offense, which was supposed to be among the league's best, scored just 28 points in the first 11 quarters.
Still, Luck has always been resilient. He inherited a 2-14 team, replaced Peyton Manning and has led the Colts to three straight 11-win seasons, back-to-back AFC South titles and last season's AFC title game.
Last weekend, with the Colts down 13 and less than 12 1/2 minutes to play, Luck directed a 98-yard touchdown drive that may have saved their season. Less than a minute later, he threw the go-ahead TD pass to Donte Moncrief. Indy scored once more time and eventually held on for a 35-33 victory.
He may have done all that with the injury.
"I'm not going to talk about when it happened," Luck said, confirming only that he was hurt during the Titans game.
The first indication of a potential injury came when backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck tapped Luck after one of his two touchdown passes, and Luck appeared to wince in pain. Following the game, Luck looked and sounded uncharacteristically drained.
As speculation grew Monday about a possible rib injury, Luck downplayed the rumors and told reporters he didn't expect to be on this week's injury report.
On Tuesday, the Colts made a surprise move by adding quarterback Alex Tanney to the practice squad. On Wednesday, Hasselbeck said he did most of the throwing while Luck did some work with the starters and tried to let his sore arm heal.
"It's probably not the first time they've tried to do it," Hasselbeck said when asked about giving Luck some rest. "It's probably the first time he gave in."
Luck would not say whether he's had an MRI on the shoulder, but the Colts believe Luck will won't miss a division game against the Jaguars (1-2).
"Supreme confidence that he'll play," Pagano said.
Notes: Cornerback Vontae Davis, receiver Andre Johnson and outside linebacker Robert Mathis all got some extra rest. ... Fullback Tyler Varga (concussion) did not practice. ... Cornerback Darius Butler (hip) and running back Josh Robinson (lower back) did limited work. Cornerback Greg Toler (neck) returned to 11-on-11 drills but worked in a red, non-contact jersey. ... The Colts also have signed cornerback Shaun Prater to the active roster and waived cornerback Eric Patterson.