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Andrew Luck advised not to throw for months to focus on rehab

When the Indianapolis Colts placed quarterback Andrew Luck on injured reserve earlier this week, it wasn't a surprise. The $140-million star hadn't thrown in weeks, time was quickly running out on the season and they had worked out fill-in passers two days prior.

It was the expected outcome for a trying season that never got started -- and no one really knows what might come next.

Colts general manager Chris Ballard said Luck's injuries are not career ending, and Luck's statement was adamant: "I know I'll be better from this."

Over the past few weeks, Luck sought theories and second opinions from at least four doctors about his surgically repaired shoulder, per sources informed of the situation.

Based on interviews with several people involved in the situation, the picture becomes just a little bit clearer.

First, most recommendations have Luck taking a few months off from throwing -- likely two to three months to focus solely on rehab. At this point, no one has recommended another surgery, though it remains a possibility.

All parties believe Luck will be ready for the 2018 offseason.

The belief is that additional issues arose in Luck's shoulder, which are byproducts of playing through the torn posterior labrum for two years. That, not the labrum, has led to the setbacks.

If surgery was the eventual decision, Dr. Marc Safran of Stanford Medicine would go in and clean up those issues.

But everyone hopes that outcome won't be necessary.

Luck does have several problems inside his shoulder in other parts beyond what was repaired -- most of which came from his mechanics changing due to compensating for the injury. Doctors have tried to figure out if the soreness is from his original issue (they don't think so) or new issues.

The shoulder doesn't look bad when examined. But there are little ailments that haven't been resolved. Over the last four weeks, Luck has spent weekdays in Birmingham, Alabama, working with Kevin Wilk, one of the nation's most respected physical therapists. And it has not gotten better. He'd rehab, then get sore, then shut it down. Every time he got close, he'd get sore.

Meanwhile, the exams continued, including when Safron flew to Nashville to meet the Colts before their Oct. 16 loss to the Titans to see Luck.

Those with direct knowledge of Luck's surgery in January fully believed he would be ready for the 2017 season.

Yet, when camp loomed near, the main factor holding Luck back drew into focus: the other injuries around the posterior labrum tear. The fraying caused other parts of the shoulder to overcompensate.

His timeline got pushed back when the season started, and they believed he'd possibly return by Week 6. But Luck never quite got over the hump. He'd constantly ask those he worked with why his shoulder felt this way, why his shoulder felt that way. The cerebral quarterback always wanted to know and understand every step along the way, never quite sure why his shoulder felt so sore.

Nine months after surgery that ended up finishing his 2017 season, the search for answers is ongoing.

Follow Ian Rapoport on Twitter @RapSheet.

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