Andrew Luck expressed supreme confidence he will return this season in his first interview with reporters Wednesday since it was known the Indianapolis Colts quarterback would be sidelined with a lacerated kidney and partially torn abdominal muscle.
“Very confident,” Luck said. “Very confident that I’ll be able to return.”
He didn’t specify a timetable. The team estimated two to six weeks when it was announced two weeks ago.
Luck said his rehabilitation increased in intensity this week, but the three-time Pro Bowl passer didn’t hint at when he’ll be able to practice, let alone play.
He admitted the need to be more aware of when it’s smart to slide and avoid hits, although Luck won’t apologize for his aggressive instincts on the field.
He acknowledged that when he took two nasty hits on a scramble in the Nov. 8 home win over Denver, he initially thought something was wrong, but it’s common to feel some pain when playing the game and he didn’t realize the severity until the next day after tests.
“I’m obviously going to defer to doctors,” Luck said. “As athletes we do know our bodies very well. You could say we know them better than anybody else necessarily, but I think there are certain things that are non-negotiables and as I understand an organ healing is a non-negotiable.”
Backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck will try to improve to 4-0 as Luck’s fill-in when the Colts host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a Sunday matchup of 5-5 teams riding two-game win streaks.
Luck’s rehab is a tedious endeavor with daily exercises and routines. The rest of the time, all he can do is wait on his body to heal.
“Yeah, there was a bit of lethargy,” he said how he felt the day after the Broncos game. “Didn’t feel very good by any means, but feel a lot better this week. It’s good.”
Some have wondered if Luck could have avoided taking the hits if he slid. The quarterback has been known to disdain sliding to try to pick up more yards by running ahead, but admitted it’s something he needs to continue to work on.
“Yeah, and part of me thinks I brought it upon myself by not sliding on certain situations and realize there’s a time and place for taking a hit,” he said. “I guess I’m not going to apologize in that sense because sometimes it is appropriate. But sliding is certainly a part of the game that I still need to improve on and we’ve talked about this before, it’s no secret.”
Luck admitted the obvious about how difficult it is to watch his teammates play, but he’s focused on trying to help Hasselbeck and the Colts in any way he can until he’s healthy.
“Yeah, it’s no fun,” he said of not playing. “But it’s also the reality of where you are and you chip in, you help out. The last thing you want to do is be a sort of energy drag on people so there’s no point in wallowing in self-pity. You learn that very quickly in team sports and it’s probably one of the first lessons you learn in team sports. The goal is obviously, one to make sure to get yourself healthy but more importantly is help the team. Be a cheerleader and be whatever Matt (Hasselbeck) needs me to be for him and so that’s where you chip in and be a team player.”
Luck is enduring the worst season of his career, statistically as well as from a health perspective. The Colts were 2-5 in games he’s played. He’s completed just 55.3 percent of his passes compared to Hasselbeck’s 65.7 completion percentage. Luck has 15 touchdown passes opposite 12 interceptions and has taken 15 sacks with one lost fumble.
He missed Weeks 4-5 with a reported sore right shoulder, although the team admitted to the NFL he also suffered a rib injury. The first serious injuries of his career also marked the first time he had missed a game. Then, after playing his best game of the season to beat the previously unbeaten Broncos, he learned the latest injuries were even more serious.
“It’s obvious some different challenges have presented themselves this year,” he said. “I know I wasn’t playing very good football to start the season off and then I’m still with injuries but that’s sports. That’s football. That’s part of it. You learn, no one feels sorry for you.
“You keep on plugging away and I think the good thing is the guys are doing a great job and we’re sitting at 5-5 with a chance to do what we’d like to do and take it week-by-week and sort of like having however many games left but a playoff game each week. That’s the mentality and that’s a beautiful thing in sports.”
Phillip B. Wilson also can be found on Facebook and Google+