Colts Quarterback Andrew Luck Still Hopes To Play In Finale

Even if Week 17 finds Colts out of AFC playoff hunt, franchise leader wants to suit up against Tennessee Titans if cleared by doctors.

If cleared, and that’s a big if, quarterback Andrew Luck still wants to play in the Indianapolis Colts’ regular-season finale against Tennessee a week from Sunday.

And that's even if the Colts are out of playoff contention.

The game could be meaningless if the 6-8 Colts lose Sunday at Miami and Houston wins at Tennessee to lock up the AFC South Division title, but Luck still holds out hope, if a kidney scan shows he's 100 percent, to play Jan. 3 against the Titans (3-11) at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Question is, would the Colts oblige? Luck hasn’t been cleared to play against the Dolphins and head coach Chuck Pagano said battered 40-year-old backup Matt Hasselbeck is expected to start.

Luck was asked why he would want to play even if the Colts are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.

“It’s football, man,” he said. “And there will be something on the line.”

Luck suffered a lacerated kidney and partially torn abdominal muscle in a 27-24 home win over Denver on Nov. 8. The initial timetable for his recovery was estimated at two to six weeks. It’s now been seven weeks, but Luck and Pagano have been adamant, due to the severity of the kidney injury, the quarterback must be 100 percent to play again this season.

Luck conceded he didn’t expect the recovery to take this much time.

“I guess in my mind, I did not,” he said. “I (thought) I would be playing. But at the same time, I realize the sort of ambiguity maybe of this type of injury that, not that it’s unprecedented, but it’s just not much to do about it and no one has much info on it, so take it for what it’s worth.”

Hasselbeck, like Luck, has taken a pounding in his seven starts, the last three losses. The 17th-year pro has suffered a painful rib separation as well as back, neck and jaw injuries. Hasselbeck expressed uncertainty about his availability after Sunday’s 16-10 home loss to Houston. He’s been sidelined in each of the past three games, although he returned to finish the last game.

Luck conceded his mentality is always the same, regardless of the magnitude of the game: He wants to help the Colts win. The team still clings to the slim chance, however far-fetched it is, that the Texans could lose in the last two weeks and open a door for the two-time defending division champions.

“Yeah and I do think it’s a bit early to ask that question as well,” Luck said of if his competitive nature makes him want to play in the finale. “We got a game (Sunday) against the Miami Dolphins coming up, but yeah, competitive nature, you want to play.”

The three-time Pro Bowl selection admitted it’s been difficult not being able to play and watching Hasselbeck take so many hits and sustain so many injuries.

“It’s not fun to watch in a sense, those parts,” Luck said. “I’ve always had a lot of admiration and respect for Matt, but to see him go tough it out, that respect has grown, that admiration has definitely grown and he’s a heck of a warrior, heck of a competitor.”

Luck, for the first time since his latest injuries, was allowed to participate in individual drills during practice last week. But he wasn’t cleared to join the team in 11-on-11 workouts and Pagano said that status hasn’t changed for this week.

“I feel good, I feel better,” Luck said. “Hopefully I’ll be able to do a little more this week in practice. I’m obviously out again for the game, but I’m getting ready to prepare myself so that when the time does come, I’m ready to go.”

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

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