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The Journal Gazette

  • Associated Press Colts quarterback Andrew Luck was throwing 30- to 40-yard passes during Thursday's practice in Indianapolis.

Friday, October 13, 2017 1:00 am

Luck progressing, but staying course

MICHAEL MAROT | Associated Press

Colts at Tennessee

When: 8:30 p.m. Monday

Where: Nissan Stadium, Nashville

TV: ESPN

Radio: 1190 AM

INDIANAPOLIS – Andrew Luck may be getting healthy at just the right time for the Indianapolis Colts.

He's throwing harder, longer and more frequently than he did just a week ago. And on Thursday, for the first time since having offseason shoulder surgery, Indianapolis' starting quarterback could sense the rehabilitation process was nearing its end.

“I think we're progressing along nicely,” he said before practice. “But I think it would be foolish to get this close to the finish line and then skip a step.”

Luck wouldn't provide a potential target date for his return to game action.

All along, coach Chuck Pagano and general manager Chris Ballard have insisted they would play it safe with Luck.

Now, though, things are ramping up.

From the moment Luck had surgery in January for a partially torn labrum in his right shoulder until last week Luck never threw to a receiver. That changed Oct. 4 when he started throwing short passes.

By Thursday, Luck was throwing passes of 30 to 40 yards during the open portion of practice.

This week's plan is to ease Luck into seven-on-seven drills where he is expected to take snaps with the scout team.

“He'll have a specific route tree and pitch count, sort of like he had last week,” Pagano said. “So it will be scripted to fit what we've designated as those throws. So that'd be, say for instance, a bunch of play-action passes.”

The timing couldn't be better for Indianapolis (2-3).

Even with Luck missing the first five games, the Colts have stayed close in the AFC South. They're tied with Houston and Tennessee, one game behind division-leading Jacksonville.

All three of Indianapolis' losses came to NFC West teams, and the Colts play their first division game Monday night against Tennessee.

Luck has already been ruled out this week, giving Jacoby Brissett another chance to show his mettle on national TV.

“You're always watching (Monday Night Football) and now I'm playing in it, so it's kind of a bizarre feeling,” Brissett said. “But we have to go out and do our job.”

Brissett has been solid since being acquired Sept. 2 in a trade with New England.

But as the three other division teams contend with injuries, the Colts seem to be getting healthy for this next four-game stretch. After Monday night, Indianapolis plays host to Jacksonville then travels to Cincinnati and Houston.

Two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Vontae Davis returned three weeks ago after missing the first three games with an injured groin.

Starting center Ryan Kelly came back last weekend after missing the first four games with a broken foot. Tight end Jack Doyle is expected to play Monday after missing last week with a concussion and Clayton Geathers, a projected starter at safety, could start practicing next week after spending all season on the physically unable to perform list with a neck injury.

If Luck returns during this next stretch, it could be a game-changer.