Andrew Luck is ready to put two mediocre seasons for the Indianapolis Colts in his rear view. His surgically repaired shoulder, however, isn’t quite there yet.
Luck is still recovering from offseason surgery to repair nagging pain in his throwing shoulder, and will be placed on the team’s physically unable to perform (PUP) list. After originally suffering the injury in Week 3 of the 2015 season, he played through the condition for nearly two years before opting to have doctors open him up in 2017.
The designation is known as the Active/PUP list during the preseason, and players can return from it at any time before the regular season begins. At the end of training camp, the Colts will have the option to activate Luck or transfer him to the Reserve/PUP list to start the regular season. Players falling under that designation are not eligible to return to the active roster until Week 7.
Indianapolis will open its season with three games against teams that went a combined 12-35-1, so having Luck for games against the Rams or Browns may not be a dealbreaker. However, the schedule ramps up in Weeks 4 and 6 when games against the Seahawks and Titans loom. Having to turn to backup QB Scott Tolzien would be a major problem.
The injury coincided with a steep downturn in the Colts’ fortunes. After three straight 11-5 seasons to kick off the Luck era, the franchise has gone 16-16 the past two years. Shoulder pain wasn’t the only culprit keeping the quarterback from regaining his Pro Bowl form, however. An abdominal tear and kidney laceration limited him to only seven games in 2015. A concussion kept him from a Week 12 showdown with the Steelers last fall.
Despite the designation, Indianapolis expects its franchise passer to be in the starting lineup for the team’s opener. On Monday, Indianapolis Star beat writer Stephen Holder reported Luck had resumed throwing and is now working on adding strength and weight before facing NFL defenses once more. Whether or not he’ll play in any preseason games is still up in the air.
Luck won’t be the only starting quarterback to begin camp on the sideline. Vikings passer Teddy Bridgewater is still recovering from the catastrophic knee injury that stole his third season as a pro in 2016.
“I think so, but again I haven’t seen him,” head coach Mike Zimmer told the Pioneer Press when asked whether Bridgewater would be placed on the PUP to start camp. That came true Wednesday with the team announcing the quarterback is the latest addition to the team’s PUP list.
Bridgewater’s recovery from a torn ACL and dislocated knee has provided several moments of optimism, but he’s not ready to take the field just yet. Minnesota can still rely on Sam Bradford, who put together one of his finest seasons as a pro last fall after being traded north from Philadelphia. Bradford is signed through the end of 2017, and Bridgewater’s rehab will play a significant role as to whether or not he reaches a contract extension with the team before the season begins.
On Monday, the club placed a pair of players on the PUP list, but not their young QB.
While Luck is in line to return by September, the jury is still out on Bridgewater’s return. Bridgewater’s ability to throw without a brace is a step in the right direction, but he’ll have to prove he can regain the mobility that allowed him to buy time in the pocket and find open windows downfield. The Vikings have kept flexible in the face of his unfortunate injury, declining the fifth-year option of his rookie contract while keeping Bradford in the fold. However, with the season just six weeks away, Minnesota will have to make some tough decisions soon.