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Ballard: No indication Andrew Luck will start '17 on PUP

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It seems no one really knows exactly when Andrew Luck will return to practicing and playing for the Colts, but don't necessarily expect him to start the season on the physically unable to perform list.

Colts general manager Chris Ballard told NFL Network's Tom Pelissero on Wednesday that although there is no timeline for Luck's return, all indications point to the quarterback not starting the season on PUP. Luck has progressed in his throwing program the past two weeks, rebuilding motion and strength -- and the Colts don't want their franchise QB skipping steps or rushing back, Pelissero reported.

Ballard's comment comes a day after Colts coach Chuck Pagano reiterated he didn't have a timeline for Luck's return as the team prepares for its preseason opener against the Lions (Saturday, 1:30 p.m. ET on NFL Network).

"We are where we are with that," Pagano told reporters Tuesday, via ESPN. "There's no timeline. When they say he's healthy and ready to go, we'll get him out there. He's played a lot of football."

Pagano must be tired of answering the same old question as much as he's tired of not having any concrete answers. For his part, Luck has been great about deflecting any doom-and-gloom scenarios about the season ahead. He told reporters recently not to freak out, though that might have just been the cerebral quarterback reflecting about the true importance of his injury in the world.

The Colts were never going to put their 27-year-old face of the franchise at risk long-term. Risking Luck's health for a shot at the season opener, or even any game within the first few weeks, would be irresponsible.

The only way the Colts look bad at this point is if they're unprepared at the backup quarterback position. Right now, the team continues to heap praise and belief onto Scott Tolzien. Tolzien went 23-37 for 216 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in his lone start last year. Lifetime, he's 79 of 128 for 937 yards, two touchdowns and seven picks.

If the Colts even had the slightest feeling that Luck's shoulder would take this much time to recover and did not maximize their strength at backup quarterback, that is the only true disappointment in this scenario. While other teams like the Giants, Patriots, Bengals, 49ers and Bears possess multiple serviceable quarterbacks capable of grinding together a win, some teams don't feel the need to even have a second. Tolzien could have grown significantly in his second year with this offense, and he'll get a crack to show the team they need not worry this weekend.

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