The Indianapolis Colts welcomed fourth-year All-Pro quarterback Andrew Luck back to practice on Wednesday ahead of Sunday’s critical AFC South showdown with the Houston Texans, according to multiple reports.
Colts owner Jim Irsay said earlier this month the team was hopeful Luck could return by Week 15 from abdominal and lacerated kidney injuries, but head coach Chuck Pagano’s remained steadfast in his assertion that Luck’s timetable for return is unclear.
Still, Luck was spotted working out and practicing in a red jersey during Wednesday’s session, while injured back-up Matt Hasselbeck wasn’t seen on the field.
— Rich Nye (@TheSportsGuy13) December 16, 2015
The Indianapolis Star’s Zak Keefer also pointed out that Luck saw his first action on the practice field since Nov. 6, which was just prior to Luck’s victory over the Denver Broncos vaunted defense in Week 9.
Big news: Andrew Luck is at practice today with other #Colts quarterbacks. First time we've seen him do this since Nov. 6.
— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) December 16, 2015
Luck’s return coincides with his statement earlier this week to The Star, during which he said he “absolutely” planned to play again this season.
“The hope is that you can start practicing before (being cleared to play) so that when you are clear, you can hit the ground running,” Luck said. “I am such a big believer in practice and always will be. You can’t just show up after (being out) however many weeks and practice for a week, go out and expect to be where you want to be. So it’ll be a little bit of a learning curve again, but I don’t imagine it to be too big of an issue.”
There’s been no indication that Luck will start against the Texans, but the Colts are scrambling for options under center after Hasselbeck left Week 14’s loss to Jacksonville and was seen wearing a sling over his left arm on the sidelines. The 40-year-old’s reportedly dealing with a rib injury after going 4-2 in Luck’s stead, though he has lost two straight games and the Colts are mired in a tie with Houston atop of the division standings and a title is the only way either team can make the postseason.
With Luck and Hasselbeck’s status presently murky, the Colts may have to go with veteran and journeyman backup Charlie Whitehurst against a Houston pass rush sporting defensive end J.J. Watt, who’s second in the NFL with 13.5 sacks.
The 26-year-old Luck has dealt with numerous injuries this season, and next year will be the last under his current contract with the Colts. The team said prior to the start of the current season that it will wait on extending Luck a new contract, one that’s expected to equal or rival the deal Seattle gave to Russell Wilson or even Aaron Rodgers’ hefty extension with Green Bay.