INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Andrew Luck will spend a second offseason recovering from shoulder surgery.
The Indianapolis Colts put Luck on injured reserve Thursday, marking the end of his season and the beginning of a different rehab program that team officials believe will get their star quarterback on the field next fall.
Colts general manager Chris Ballard made the announcement during a surprise news conference at the team complex.
"I've heard all sorts of rumors about career-ending," Ballard said. "That's not the case here. I've not got that from one doctor. Career-ending is putting him out on the field before he's ready to play. That's where you should be concerned."
Indianapolis (2-6) never did rush Luck.
After having surgery in January for a partially torn labrum in his throwing shoulder, Luck missed all of Indy's offseason workouts, all of training camp, the entire preseason and now the entire 16-game regular season.
Luck didn't even start throwing to teammates until early October and was limited to throwing every other day. Just two weeks later, he was "shut down" because of soreness his right shoulder.
So with the Colts struggling, their playoff hopes fading fast and Luck apparently not ready to play, Indianapolis decided to make the smart, cautious move — even if it wasn't Luck's preference.
"I wish I was better and 100 percent this season, but that's not the case," Luck told the team's website, Colts.com. "I know I'll be better from this. I know I'll be a better quarterback, teammate, person and player from this, and I'm excited for the future."
If Luck is ready to start the 2018 season opener, he would go more than 20 months between regular-season snaps.
What changes will be made to the rehab program?
Ballard said Luck will work out in multiple locations and will use a different routine to help him regain his strength. For now, throwing is out and there are no plans for additional surgery.
Instead, Ballard continues to preach patience.
Dr. Amin Tehrany, an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in shoulders and knees and is a founder of Manhattan Orthopedic Care in New York, understands why the length of the recovery worries fans.
"It's a little unusual," said Tehrany, who hasn't examined Luck. "The question is how severe was the injury, how much surgery was required and what type of surgery was required. He also seems to have had the injury for a long time, two years. When the complaints of the injury linger for a long time, the recovery takes longer."
While the move itself wasn't a surprise, the timing was.
Just three weeks ago, Luck spoke of nearing the "finish line."
Six days later, Ballard told reporters Luck needed a cortisone shot for inflammation in the shoulder and that his throwing regimen had been "shut down."
At the time, Ballard described some soreness was expected. Ballard also said when Luck resumed throwing he would pick up where he left off.
Instead the soreness lingered and Luck eventually started seeking out other doctors.
"The consensus from all the doctors is to continue rehab," Ballard said. "To be patient and continue rehab."
In the meantime, Jacoby Brissett will continue to replace Luck in the lineup as the Colts search for another backup.
Four quarterbacks worked out Tuesday at the team's complex. The only other quarterbacks on the roster are Brissett and Scott Tolzien, who was benched after three quarters in the season opener.
Inside the locker room, Luck's teammates understand why he won't be back.
"You have to be smart," running back Frank Gore said earlier this week. "I just think he should be smart and do what's right for him. If he can go, he's going to go. I know what he's done here. I don't question that. But I think he should be smart, and he's a young player, a great player."
A healthy Luck led the Colts to the playoffs each of his first three years in the league and took them a step deeper in the playoffs each season, too. He also was sacked 100 times in those three seasons, hits that finally started to take a toll on Luck's body in 2015.
Luck missed two games after hurting his right shoulder at Tennessee on Sept. 27, 2015, returned for four and then missed the last seven with a lacerated kidney.
Rather than have offseason shoulder surgery then, Luck opted for rest. In June 2016, he signed the richest contract in NFL history — six years, $140 million with $87 million guaranteed.
Pagano diligently tried to protect the Colts' big investment by giving him extra days off during the week last season.
Luck responded with one of the best seasons of his career — completing a career-best 63.5 percent of his passes, finishing with 4,240 yards, 31 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.
But because Luck thought the shoulder was still inhibiting his play, he opted for surgery.
Now, he's done for the season.
"He was frustrated. He's a competitive guy, he knows the impact he has on a Sunday," Ballard said. "He's a difference-maker. He's one of the best quarterbacks in the league, so he's frustrated."
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