There is no timeline for Andrew Luck's return. Nine months after the shoulder surgery the quarterback underwent in January to repair a torn labrum on his throwing shoulder, Luck is still recovering and won't put a date on a comeback. But that's not to say he's not on a schedule. It's just one that is determined by events and milestones instead of dates.
Monday night in the Colts' first division game of the season Indy's franchise quarterback was on the sideline playing the role of a quarterback's coach, helping Jacoby Brissett identify the Titans tendencies, and matchups. In an off-camera conversation I had with Luck on the field during pregame warm-ups, Luck pointed out to me that it was here on this field in Nashville in a game against the Titans, just over two years ago when he first injured his shoulder. Since then he's missed time for a lacerated kidney, a concussion and now because of shoulder surgery.
When I ask if he might be able to play when these two teams meet again the end of November, he decidedly told me there is no timetable for his return, but that it is still a goal of his to play this season. The reason why there is not a timeline? He explains it is because he, his doctors and support staff have a set of goals and benchmarks that must first be met for him to return. He wouldn't share them with me, only to say that one is for him to be pain free.
If I didn't know Andrew Luck at all, I might think he's being pessimistic. Or read into his tone that a return isn't imminent, but that's not what he tells me. Just that when certain goals are met, he'll play.
He does share with me how strange it is to be at a game like Monday's where his contribution will be helping his backup, Jacoby Brissett, who is still learning the Colts' offense.
When Luck is ready to return, he knows he will have some catching up to do. He said there has been a lot of transition since he last played on New Year's Day against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He hasn't gotten to practice with some of the current players on the Colts' roster, like rookie running back Marlon Mack or tight end Brandon Williams.
I asked him if he doesn't want to rush his return because he's thinking about the big picture and his career longevity. He says no and explains that the whole point is that if he's disciplined and meets the requirements that have been placed in front of him to get healthy again, that longevity will take care of itself.