It’s been a really long time since Andrew Luck was in full pads, throwing passes to his teammates. Everyone has been waiting for this day. The coaches, the fans, and more than anyone – Luck himself. Well, that day has finally arrived, as Luck was declared fully healthy at the start of training camp.
Could this mark the completion of the comeback, which began a year and a half ago? Perhaps. But one thing is certain – Luck looks really, really good in practice right now. And if Luck is truly as healthy as advertised, this team goes from being one of the worst in the league, to a potential sleeper contender. It’s that simple. That’s how good Luck is, and that’s how much he means to the Indianapolis Colts. So far, reports out of Colts camp are extremely positive regarding Luck and the latest headlines say he is healthy for the regular season. If he is as sharp as advertised, this team could be a force to be reckoned with.
Another solid practice for Luck.
19-of-22 throwing. 12-of-14 in 11-on-11 work, with a drop.
Tonight was Luck’s first full-padded practice, plus throwing in team drills, since the end of the 2016 season.
— Kevin Bowen (@KBowen1070) July 30, 2018
Right now, Luck and the Colts need to stay humble and just go through the motions. Every practice is critical right now, not just in getting the plays and timing on track, but in knocking off a whole lot of rust that has accumulated on Luck’s throwing shoulder. It’s one thing to work on routes with your receivers, but it’s a whole different story to get back into game mode. Particularly when you’ve been away from the game for such an extended period of time.
Colts fans can be comforted by the fact the the offense looks sharp at the moment, and perhaps the team lets Luck get a few more plays in the preseason than normal. After all, regaining his confidence is a healing process on its own. And it can go a long way in preventing future injuries. The Colts need to make sure Luck is ready to roll before they unleash him.
— Chase (@padgett_13) July 30, 2018
One player who surely is thrilled to have his quarterback back on the field is wide receiver T.Y. Hilton. It’s no surprise that Hilton’s stats have declined in Luck’s absence. The speedy wideout is known for having game-breaking speed. But unfortunately, Indy’s backups were simply unable to get him the ball on a consistent basis last season. That’s likely the main reason that Hilton failed to reach the 1,000 yard mark for the first time since his rookie season (2012). Still, Hilton played well considering all the factors working against him, putting up a very respectable 966 receiving yards on the year.
Luck returns to a different team than he had back in 2016. Frank Gore is no longer on the roster, but the offensive line is definitely improved. The Colts made sure of that by drafting Quenton Nelson with the sixth overall pick in the draft. Nelson was the consensus top offensive lineman in the draft, and he should provide an immediate impact on the inside, both in pass protection and in the running game.
Meanwhile, Luck’s number two wideout Donte Moncrief is also no longer on the roster, but the team still has a reliable tight end in Jack Doyle, who will be one of the main targets for Luck due to his size, knack for getting open, sure hands, and fearless attitude in making catches across the middle of the field. Moreover, the Colts also added former Lions tight end Eric Ebron in free agency. The team could employ more two tight-end sets this year, as a way of getting their best pass catchers on the field simultaneously, while also having an extra blocker in there to help out in pass protection and in the run game.
Luck’s progression from his return from injury needs to be closely monitored over the next month. If he truly is 100 percent healthy, the rest of the league must take notice, because the Colts could be back with a vengeance this season.