Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck came away from a Monday throwing session encouraged about his progress and said he hopes to practice Wednesday for the first time since suffering a lacerated kidney and partially torn abdominal muscle on Nov. 8.
But that doesn’t mean he will play in Sunday’s all-important home game against the Houston Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium.
While the Colts (6-7) are deadlocked with the Texans for first place in the AFC South Division and are coming off unprecedented 35-point losses in back-to-back games, Luck said he’s not yet 100 percent and his availability will be determined by medical scans without any influence by the magnitude of the next game.
“I do know (I’m) feeling a lot better,” he said. “Got out and threw again today and did a bunch of stuff today. So hopefully that will definitely be the goal, to practice this week. I’ll let coach and the docs handle that.”
Head coach Chuck Pagano, however, didn’t shed any light on the Luck plan for this week.
“I have not heard anything from our trainers or doctors on that,” the coach said.
Pagano did say backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, injured in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 51-16 loss at Jacksonville, is dealing with the same neck and rib injuries sustained in the previous week’s 45-10 loss at Pittsburgh. But the coach “fully anticipates” Hasselbeck to be able to play Sunday, although the 40-year-old passer will likely get an extra day of rest on Wednesday.
Hasselbeck led the Colts to a 27-20 win at Houston on Oct. 8, so a sweep of the season series would put Indianapolis in the driver’s seat to win the division and secure a fourth consecutive playoff berth with two games remaining.
If the Colts lost to the Texans, however, they would be in a most precarious position of playing catch-up and needing help in the final two weeks. The Texans have never won in Indianapolis in 13 trips.
It’s rare for the normally tight-lipped Luck to shed more light on his rehabilitation than Pagano, but the quarterback provided more details. Luck reiterated he must be 100 percent to play.
“From what I understand with an internal organ, you have two kidneys, so you can’t play with one that’s bummed,” he said.
“To me, the situation’s been urgent since day one. I wouldn’t say there’s any more urgency.”
Luck said he must be cleared first to practice, then cleared again to play after another scan.
“The hope is you start practicing maybe before that time so when you are cleared to play you can hit the ground running,” he said. “I’m such a big believer in practice and always will be. You can’t just sit out per se for however many weeks it’s been and show up, practice for a week and go and expect to be where you want to be. It’ll be a little bit of a learning curve again. But I don’t imagine it to be too big of an issue.”
Asked if the plan is still for him to play this season, Luck said without hesitation, “Yeah, absolutely.”
Asked if, hypothetically, he could practice Wednesday and play Sunday, Luck said, “If I’m cleared, yeah, 100 percent. Sure. But I don’t have to answer that question right now.”
It’s obviously been a challenge dealing with watching his teammates play without him.
“It’s every game you miss, you want to play,” he said. “It’s a test, in a sense. And I personally am going to have to get through it and come back stronger from it. We’ll see how it goes. The guys have done such a great job of making sure we’re still in the hunt and still in control of our own destiny. That’s the beauty of December football and playing meaningful games at home against tough division opponents. It’s awesome. It’s a big week.”
Phillip B. Wilson also can be found on Facebook and Google+.