Andrew Luck's injury absence now extends to a second game.
As was speculated earlier in the day in national media reports including NFL.com and ESPN, the Indianapolis Colts quarterback was among the team's inactives for Thursday night's road game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. A sore right shoulder -- some speculate it's separated -- caused Luck to be inactive for the first time of his career last Sunday.
Backup Matt Hasselbeck will start again, despite suffering from a bacterial infection that had him in a hospital early Tuesday morning. The 40-year-old Hasselbeck led the Colts to a 16-13 overtime win over Jacksonville Sunday in the 17-year veteran's first start since 2012. He's 82-71 in his career as a starter.
Earlier this week, everything seemed to indicate Luck would be back to play this primetime game in his hometown. Head coach Chuck Pagano said his quarterback was "trending in the right direction" and "looked good" in practice. Luck said he was preparing to start and expressed the desire that he wanted to play.
But that's how both acted the week before, when Pagano twice said he was "supremely confident" Luck would play against the Jaguars. Luck had assured he was OK the day after the injury supposedly occurred during a 35-33 win at Tennessee. A watchful NFL nation noticed a sideline interaction in which Hasselbeck patted Luck on the chest and Luck winced in pain. The clip prompted immediate and continual buzz in social media.
Neither Pagano nor Luck have provided any specific detail about the injury. Luck has struggled mightily this season, albeit while taking 21 hits and five sacks. His seven interceptions are tied for the league worst. The Colts have a league-worst 12 turnovers.
Luck warmed up with the team prior to the game, in what reports said was a planned test of the shoulder. But the Colts, according to various reports, had already decided to go with Hasselbeck again prior to that workout.
Inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman (groin) is also among the inactives, as are running back Tyler Varga, offensive guard Lance Louis, defensive lineman T.Y. McGill, offensive tackle Denzelle Good and outside linebacker Bjoern Werner.
The Colts (2-2) have a 15-game AFC South Division winning streak, tied with Miami (1972-73) for longest since 1970, as they try to knock off the Texans (1-3) for a second consecutive year on a Thursday night in the Lone Star State.
Despite losing their first two regular-season games by double digits, two Colts victories against division foes were all it took for the two-time defending division champs to regain first place.
Phillip B. Wilson also can be found on Facebook and Google+.