Analysis: It's 'NeardGate' with Colts' Andrew Luck

A day after Pro Bowl quarterback didn't throw due to a sore right shoulder, he wasn't passing at start of Thursday workout, either.

A strong but soothing wind whistled through the Indianapolis Colts’ practice fields on a comfortable late Thursday morning as a quarterback in question loosened his arms with a few twirls.

That’s about all Andrew Luck was doing.

The Pro Bowl passer wasn’t throwing passes, at least not during the portion of practice the media is allowed to watch. A day after Colts head coach Chuck Pagano and Luck admitted the franchise cornerstone had a sore right throwing shoulder, he jogged, handed off and even pitched the football.

During one portion of the workout, Luck as well as backups Matt Hasselbeck and Alex Tanney disappeared into the indoor complex. Hmmm. Wonder what could be going on in there?

Just when we think it can’t get any more interesting with the Indianapolis Colts, they remind us that subterfuge is a part of the NFL.

DeflateGate was just the start.

Now, it’s LuckGate. Nah, that’s not good enough.

How about NeardGate, in honor of Luck’s famous neck beard?

Some will contend this doesn’t matter because the Colts (1-2) are hosting the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2) Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Jags are coming off a 51-17 loss at New England. Surely, the Colts could beat those guys, even with Hasselbeck starting.

But the Colts being deceptive about the Luck injury situation merely adds attention to it. Seriously, how in the world could Pagano finally get around to mentioning Luck as the eighth player listing in Wednesday’s injury update?

Oh, and by the way, that one guy who usually does a lot each game, he’s kinda sore, sort of. Make a note of it, if you want. Or not, doesn’t matter really.

This whole thing started with a wince, when TV cameras caught Hasselbeck patting Luck on the chest during the second half of Sunday’s 35-33 win at Tennessee — and Luck recoiled as if he had just taken a punch.

Afterward, he said he wasn’t hurt. Pagano assured his quarterback was OK.

On Monday, Luck said he was fine. Just needed a cold shower, some pizza and a good night’s sleep. Pagano again assured his quarterback would be OK.

But on Wednesday, it was time to spill the beans. Luck was limited in practice. Players said he didn’t do any throwing. Luck admitted he lied on Monday. Nice of him to say so, although the unwritten NFL belief is, “There’s no lying in football. It’s called gamesmanship.”

Pagano, of course. shrugged it off. He did his best to act as if this was no big deal.

Hey, everyone, Andrew just needs a little rest. He’s sore. There’s nothing to see here. Go on about your business.

Do you ever notice how when someone tells you not to look or think about something, you do precisely that?

If there’s some irony in this, it’s that Luck’s injury listing is the same the New England Patriots cited for years on quarterback Tom Brady. He was always probable with a right throwing shoulder. The Patriots weren’t always on the up and up with those injury reports — one time a lineman who shredded two knee ligaments was still listed as doubtful for the next week.

The Colts got so ticked off about this, they started listing more injuries than we could count. It was president Bill Polian's way of saying, “Take that!” to Bill Belichick and friends.

In 56 games including the playoffs, Luck has taken a continual pounding. The hope was his 6-4, 240-pound body would continue to be super human and absorb the punishment, but we all know that’s unrealistic. The physical nature of this game catches up with everyone.

Monday soreness the day after a game is part of the routine. But soreness that lingers is not exactly something anyone paying attention to the Colts can be dismissive about.

Perhaps the Colts will rest Luck for the Jaguars game because there’s a short week with a Thursday game at Houston in Week 5. Or maybe the Colts just aren’t letting the media see Luck throw because they’re trying to ensure the Jaguars prepare for Hasselbeck, too.

The latter is ludicrous. The Jaguars will prepare for Luck, regardless. And if Hasselbeck plays, the Jaguars will embrace facing the 40-year-old backup instead of No. 12.

After three eventful weeks that included a pair of double-digit losses, too many turnovers and penalties, and a thrilling comeback win on the road, this was supposed to be the quiet week at the Colts complex.

The quarterback in question was listed as limited on Thursday's injury report.

Andrew Luck watch, uh, NeardGate, extends to a third day.

Phillip B. Wilson also can be found on Facebook and Google+.

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