Pagano: Luck's shoulder issues were 'taxing' in 2016

Stephen Holder
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Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) in the bench area in the second half of their game Thursday, November 24, evening at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Indianapolis Colts lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers 28-7.

PHOENIX – Andrew Luck’s shoulder was a topic of conversation for the second straight day at the NFL's owners meetings.

Tuesday, Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano revealed that the decision to move forward with surgery in January on the franchise quarterback’s throwing shoulder was more elective than previously believed.

The decision was arrived at after much deliberation with medical specialists and taking into account the struggles Luck faced in 2016 in managing his shoulder soreness. Luck, it appears, was spending an inordinate amount of time in the training room. That, Pagano said, made the decision clear.

“Anytime you have a procedure done, there’s some uncertainty that goes with that. But we felt fully confident,” Pagano said. “There was a lot of dialogue, a lot of conversation that went into that decision. It wasn’t one of those things where we woke up one day and said. 'Let’s send him out to such and such and go get him fixed.' We felt like it was the best thing for Andrew moving forward.


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“His preparation from a physical standpoint and a mental standpoint last year was taxing. It was very, very difficult. It’s hard getting ready for Sunday’s when you’re healthy, let alone when you’re dealing with stuff. I think it was the best thing for the quarterback and for our organization.”

Owner Jim Irsay on Monday touched on this, saying Luck’s shoulder was more of an issue behind the scenes than the tight-lipped quarterback ever let on. But Pagano’s elaboration filled in a few more pieces of the puzzle.

“He plays as tough a position as there is in football,” Pagano said of Luck. “… But then, from a physical standpoint, the grind that you have to go through to get yourself as close to 100 percent by game day (was too much). There were a lot of discussions, but we just felt like (surgery) was the best thing for Andrew and our organization moving forward. We know he’s going to make a total recovery and be the best version of Andrew that we’ve seen to this point.”

The details about the Luck decision provided this week add important context to the quarterback’s performance in 2016. It was, frankly, pretty darn good for a guy who was spending as much time with the training staff as he was his playbook.

Luck completed a career-high 63.5 percent of his pass attempts, threw for 4,240 yards and had a 96.4 passer rating – just a hair under his 96.5 career-best in 2014.

Despite Irsay’s and Pagano’s adamant statements promising a full recovery for Luck, the truth is they know how important he is to the franchise. So, the notion of him being sidelined for the coming months – the Colts won’t yet commit to him being ready at the start of training camp – is nerve racking.

“I would be lying if I said it wasn’t,” Pagano said. “I can’t lie to you. Yeah, you want to have your guy available and you want to have him year-round and we’ve got to adapt. That’s what great teams and great organizations have to do. You have to adapt and you have to adjust on the fly. So we’ll do that.”

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