All indications point to quarterback Andrew Luck returning Sunday night, when the Indianapolis Colts host the New England Patriots at Lucas Oil Stadium.
That said, optimism had been expressed prior to the previous two games, when he was inactive.
But for the first time in three weeks, Luck was a full practice participant Friday. He’s listed as questionable but Colts owner Jim Irsay has expressed confidence in Luck’s return in an interview with ESPN.com.
The Colts also have yet to sign another quarterback, so just Luck and backup Matt Hasselbeck are the only ones on the roster. In the past, the team had added Josh Johnson to the active roster, but he signed with Buffalo this week.
Head coach Chuck Pagano said he will have the final say.
“It looks good right now. Good chance,” Pagano said Friday.
Asked if he’s seen his quarterback make progress, the coach said, “Yeah, every single day he’s gotten better. He’s obviously as close as he’s ever been.”
The Colts (3-2) are 10.5-point home underdogs against the defending Super Bowl champions, which begs the question: Is playing Luck at less than 100 percent worth the risk?
The three-time Pro Bowl passer reiterated his desire to play on Wednesday. He’s also alluded to how football players typically suit up each week with health concerns.
Hasselbeck led the Colts to a 16-13 overtime win over Jacksonville at home and a 27-20 road win at Houston. The 40-year-old veteran of 17 NFL seasons has proven he’s a viable option should Pagano decide to play it safe with Luck.
The rematch of January’s AFC Championship Game has resulted in a lot of predictable pregame hype. Much has been made of the Colts needing to prove something against a team that demoralized them 45-7 at Gillette Stadium the last time. New England media have suggested the Patriots will be hell-bent on getting some payback for the Colts’ complaints to the league about under-inflated footballs which led to the offseason DeflateGate controversy.
Both sides insists it’s just the next game on the schedule and not to read more into it.
In the case of the Colts and their franchise quarterback, when he returns and how healthy he can become sure seems like a more important issue.
Phillip B. Wilson also can be found on Facebook and Google+.