Luck practices (we think), hopes to play vs. Patriots (maybe)

Stephen Holder
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  • Patriots at Colts, 8:30 p.m. Sunday, NBC
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) looks up to the video board to watch a replay during the second half of an NFL football game Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas.

When it comes to the status of Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, the only certainty during the past two weeks is that the information provided was wholly unreliable.

One minute, Luck’s getting better. The next, never mind, he’s not playing. One minute he is said to be practicing, the next it’s revealed he was largely a spectator.

At this point, maybe none of it even matters.

This does: Luck has missed two straight games with a throwing shoulder injury, and the Colts play the New England Patriots on Sunday night (8:30, NBC).

If ever the Colts needed definitive answers about their quarterback’s status, it’s this week.

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And we now seem to be getting closer to those answers, with Luck participating on an unrestricted basis in Monday’s practice. We think. Practice was not open to reporters -- the media is usually allowed to watch a short portion -- so everyone will have to take the Colts at their word.

“It feels better every day,” Luck said afterward. “It was great to go through practice without limitations, in a sense, and get out there and throw. It was better.”

Luck had practiced only sporadically and on an extremely limited basis during the past two weeks.

Asked to evaluate his quarterback’s performance in practice, coach Chuck Pagano said only, “He looked great.”

When pressed on whether a decision has been made to play Luck on Sunday, Pagano said, “He’s day to day,” the exact same description he’s used for the past two weeks.

Luck went a little further, though not much.

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“It was good. It’s another step in the right direction,” he said of his day in practice. “It’s always fun to get out and practice on a beautiful day and prepare for a great team coming to town.”

When asked to compare his level of involvement in Monday’s practice versus that of the last two weeks, Luck said, “More. Definitely more.” He declined to be more specific when pressed, maintaining the team’s practice of not providing meaningful details about the injury or Luck’s progress.

For what it’s worth, the Colts on Monday released quarterback Josh Johnson, a veteran who was brought in as an emergency quarterback after Luck’s injury. Of course, Johnson was released a week ago Monday before being re-signed on Wednesday, the day before the Colts traveled to Houston to play the Texans. So, again, uncertainty rules.

Something about which there is no question is Luck’s past struggles against the Patriots. They have owned him and the Colts during Luck’s four-year career. Indianapolis and Luck are 0-4 against their AFC rival.

In his  most recent game against the Patriots, Luck completed just 12-of-33 passes and threw two interceptions and no touchdowns during the AFC title game. His completion percentage that night, 36.4, was the lowest of his distinguished career.

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Still, Luck did his best to pretend this is just another game.

“Every game is important,” he said. “This certainly is a big game. It’s the next game. And it is a very, very good team that’s undefeated coming into town. There certainly is a history between us and them, but it’s also a new year.”

Meanwhile, while the Colts hope for the best with Luck’s physical status, the plight of backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck continues. After leading the Colts to a 2-0 record in Luck’s absence, Hasselbeck continues to fight his own physical battle. He practiced Monday but is still being treated for the bacterial infection that afflicted him last week and nearly kept from playing last Thursday night.

Details are still coming to light. Hasselbeck still was receiving antibiotics intravenously over the weekend and is scheduled to undergo further testing in the coming days. The source of his medical issues initially eluded physicians. The abdominal pains he complained of at the outset even raised questions about whether he was suffering from appendicitis and prompted his visit to the hospital the day after the Colts defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars on Oct. 4.

Both quarterbacks just want to get back to normal. Luck, in particular, has struggled with sitting on the sidelines for the first time as a pro.

“When you’re not out there,” he said, “you’re certainly itching to go.”

Said center Khaled Holmes: “Sitting out for injury is really a difficult thing mentally to get through. But he’s the kind of guy who is going to bounce back from it really strong mentally.”

Amid all the contradictory talk about Luck’s shoulder, Luck was particularly honest about one thing on Monday. When asked whether there was a chance he would miss Sunday’s game, the one against the team that has made him look most mortal, Luck was succinct.

“I really hope not,” he said. “I really, really hope not.”

Follow Star reporter Stephen Holder on Twitter: @HolderStephen. 

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