Is Colts quarterback Andrew Luck actually making progress?

Inactive for two games due to a sore right shoulder, Pro Bowl passer threw the football in Wednesday's practice, an improvement which suggests Luck could play Sunday night against the Patriots.

On Wednesday, Andrew threw.

That qualifies as news because only the Indianapolis Colts know how much quartrerback Andrew Luck has done that in the past two weeks. Inactive for two games due to what the team has described as a sore right shoulder, reporters had not seen the franchise quarterback throw a pass in practice.

Seeing him do so will undoubtedly raise hopes Luck can return Sunday night, when the Colts (3-2) host the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots (4-0) at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Keep in mind, however, the Colts have been downright deceptive in their recent descriptions of Luck's progress, or lack thereof.

Head coach Chuck Pagano expressed optimism in each of the past two weeks and suggested his quarteback was "trending in the right direction" and that he expected Luck to play. Then Luck didn't. Matt Hasselbeck stepped in and led the Colts to a 16-13 overtime home win over Jacksonville and 27-20 road victory at Houston.

Pagano unttered the same encouraged assessments today. So, again, Luck's status is still very much an unknown.

The injury report listed Luck as limited in practice. That might surprise some who put a lot of stock into Pagano stating his quarterback was a full participant in Monday's practice, but that was a walk-through and such injury designations aren't officially reported so early in a game week.

Luck acknowledged he's making progress, but he's been saying that for two weeks, too. Getting better every day. Got it.

"Certainly took the next step, absolutely," he said of practice. "Did more and more and it felt better and better."

Luck added that he's on track ... but for what? Returning Sunday night? Or next week?

"I know for a fact our higher-ups in this building are not going to put anybody out there who's not ready to play at a productive level in the NFL that can't help the team win," he said. "That's sort of the approach I'm taking. I'm not going to worry about the 'what ifs' in this sense or the hypotheticals. No use."

Good luck deciphering that one. Here's more plain English that doesn't require any interpretation.

Four previous Patriots games have been ridiculously one-sided, the Colts losting by an average of 29 points. Luck has committed 11 turnovers in those ugly outcomes.

This season has been Luck's ugliest, too. The fourth-year pro has thrown seven interceptions and lost one fumble in three games. Some have suggested his injury predated a comeback win at Tennessee in Week 3. The most hit quarterback in the NFL by a wide margin last year, Luck has already taken 21 hits and five sacks this season.

His struggles underscore the importance of not rushing him back.

So maybe he returns Sunday. And then again, maybe not.

"I'm pretty darn close to where I want to be," Luck said.

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

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