Quarterback Andrew Luck has missed nearly all of the Indianapolis Colts’ training camp practices this summer with what has been described as a calf injury suffered while working out in April, after also sitting out the team’s organized team activities in May because of the injury. No one involved with the team seemed all that worried, with Luck saying last month that he simply was being honest with the team and Coach Frank Reich saying that Luck would have been able to play had the regular season been upon them.
Plus, the specter of Kevin Durant’s torn Achilles’ — suffered after a hasty return from a calf injury in the NBA Finals — was on everyone’s mind. There was no need to rush Luck back so early in training camp when his calf — or lower leg or ankle, two other areas he said were bothering him — wasn’t right yet.
Unless it wasn’t Luck’s calf, or his lower leg, or his ankle, or any type of muscle, but something else entirely?
“I know everyone’s having their questions about Andrew, and that sort of thing, but I really feel very confident that he’s going to find his way through this thing,” Colts owner Jim Irsay said Tuesday on SiriusXM. “After the Durant thing and everything, everyone’s erring on the side of caution, but quite frankly, this is not even in the Achilles’ tendon. This is in another area, it’s a bone — I’m not good at these things — it’s a small little bone, and [former Colts player] Ryan Diem had it, and Raheem Brock had it, the trainers told me. And he’s doing very well, very excited, he’s a married man, baby on the way, and he couldn’t be more excited for the season.”
Later in the day, Colts General Manager Chris Ballard did little to clear things up and in fact may have clouded things even further by saying Luck was experiencing pain in the “high anklish” area of his left leg.
“From the start we’ve been dealing with a calf injury,” Ballard said, per ESPN. “In March through camp, dealing with a calf and then little area below his calf, which Andrew kind of referred to as a lower leg where he was dealing with some pain, almost in the ankle area. The injury wasn’t getting better and [he] hadn’t been practicing, so in the course of dealing with the calf injury, it appears that now we have an ankle issue."
Nevertheless, the Colts finally have seemed to pin down exactly what’s wrong with their star quarterback.
“We think we found it,” Ballard said. “Is there 100 percent guarantee? No, but we think we have [found it]. We’ll rehab it the way we think we need to rehab it."
Ballard confirmed that Luck will not be playing in the preseason but “was not ready to say” whether he will be ready to face the Chargers on Sept. 8.
If this situation seems familiar, it’s because the Colts seem to be following the same confusing playbook they used during Luck’s shoulder injury a few years ago. Irsay originally said late in 2016 that Luck would not need surgery to repair the torn labrum in his shoulder, an injury that had been plaguing him for more than a year, but Luck underwent the procedure in January 2017. Still, the team owner said then that Luck would be ready for the 2017 season, a prediction he repeated that summer. Then, as the team gathered for training camp and Luck continued to sit on the sideline, Irsay changed his prediction to early in the 2017 season.
That obviously didn’t happen: Luck sat out the entire season while rehabbing his shoulder, a journey that took him to Amsterdam to work with a trainer. He returned in 2018 and played in all 16 games, posting a career-high QBR, helping lead the Colts to the playoffs for the first time since 2014 and even winning a postseason game. All seemed good, at least until Luck injured his calf, or his ankle, or some mysterious bone. And now no one seems to know anything again.
Should Luck not be ready for the start of the regular season, Indianapolis seems confident in its backup plan, which also was the same backup plan it had in 2017: Jacoby Brissett, who performed well in a pretty tough spot (17 total touchdowns, only seven interceptions, league-high 52 sacks taken). The Colts have held on to Brissett since then despite numerous trade offers from other teams, and now they have an innovative offensive coach in Reich and a vastly improved offensive line that could protect him better than in 2017.
“It allows me to sleep at night,” Ballard said of Brissett’s presence last week, per Yahoo’s Terez Paylor.
More NFL coverage: