Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay answered the question everyone has been asking for about a month on Sunday in announcing the expectation for quarterback Andrew Luck to return to the lineup Dec. 27 for a road game against the Miami Dolphins.
Irsay revealed the timetable during an appearance on NFL Network's GameDay First. If accurate, that means quarterback Matt Hasselbeck will have to keep the Colts in the playoff hunt for three more games. Hasselbeck is 4-0 this season entering Sunday night's road test against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field.
But NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport tweeted the Colts aren't ruling out a return in two weeks against the Houston Texans: "#Colts owner Jim Irsay told me he believes QB Andrew Luck will be back for Week 15 vs. the #Texans. Week 16 vs. #Dolphins at the latest."
Luck suffered a lacerated kidney and partially torn abdominal muscle in a Nov. 8 home win over the Denver Broncos. The team initially estimated his recovery timetable at two-to-six weeks. If Irsay’s timetable is accurate, the three-time Pro Bowl passer’s absence would be six weeks and five days since the injury was announced.
Luck has told reporters in each of the past two weeks that he’s making progress every day. He’s resumed throwing with a couple of “intense” sessions in the last week.
Neither he nor head coach Chuck Pagano would specify when Luck would play, but Irsay is known for making headlines when he interacts with the media.
“No timetable now,” Luck said Wednesday. “I think we’re still focusing on just making improvements every day. I’m throwing a little, getting out there which is always nice, fun stuff.”
The 40-year-old Hasselbeck's steady play has enabled the Colts (6-5) to stay tied with the Houston Texans atop the AFC South Division. The 17th-year pro has completed 64.7 percent of his passes and thrown seven touchdown passes with just two interceptions in wins over the Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“I think I do realize how special it is for him to be playing at that age,” Luck said of Hasselbeck. “He always jokes (and) he says, ‘For every kid you have, you should add 10 more QB points to your QB rating.’ That would put him way above the average (laughs), but he’s doing a marvelous job.”
The Colts and Texans meet again at Lucas Oil Stadium in two weeks. The Texans, founded in 2002, have never won in Indianapolis, a drought of 13 games.
While a touchdown underdog against the Steelers, the two-time defending division champion Colts will likely be favored in their final four games: at Jacksonville, against Houston, at Miami and against the Tennessee Titans.
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