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INDIANAPOLIS – When the Colts begin their Training Camp practice on Thursday, Andrew Luck will be under center for his first team reps in nearly 19 months.
That was the major news from Chris Ballard’s preview of his second camp as general manager.
From the state-of-the-art Grand Park campus, Ballard updated things on Luck while also breaking down the key injuries for the Colts going into report day on Wednesday.
The Luck talk, as one would expect, dominated Ballard’s time with the media.
After throwing with receivers in California earlier this month, Luck is right on track to take the starting reps when practice starts on Thursday.
“I’ve seen enough throws that he’s throwing the ball pretty well,” Ballard said of his franchise quarterback.
While Luck will have some off days in camp, the Colts are sticking with the plan they laid out last month. That means Luck will practice 3 days in a row, take a day off, then throw again the next day—in trying to mimic a regular season week.
“When (Luck’s) out there, there will not be any limitations,” Ballard said.
Ballard and the Colts have still not carved out an exact preseason playing time schedule yet for Luck, but both parties know that game reps in August are needed.
“Andrew is an elite competitor and a pretty rare one,” Ballard said. “I think we’ve seen that in his career. I think it’s more of playing live football again. I don’t think there’s any mental restrictions. I think it’s just more about getting live reps versus live people. That’s the timing. Get used to moving in the pocket.”
Besides Luck, Ballard also offered updates on how the rehabs of Malik Hooker and Clayton Geathers are coming along. Those injury updates are further below.
Here are the takeaways from Ballard meeting the media:
–On being up at Grand Park for the for time: “Pretty neat setup for football. I think it’s going to be great for our fans. They will have a chance to really get up close, which I think is important. It was hard last year being away. I think it will be a great thing for our fans. And I think it will be a good thing for our players. It’s nice to have people watching every day. It gets the energy going, just going to practice. I think it’s going to be a really great thing. It’s a great facility.”
–On Robert Turbin being suspended for the first 4 games of next season: “I think a lot of Robert. He’s a heck of a pro. He owned up. He’s going to take his punishment and move forward. He will still get reps in camp. I’m excited about what (Marlon) Mack can do. I’m excited about (Jordan) Wilkins and (Nyheim) Hines. These are talented, talented people. (Josh) Ferguson had a great offseason. Christine Michael had a great offseason. I’m excited to see how they develop in their roles and how our staff uses them.”
–On rookie Darius Leonard, who is the only Colts draft pick still unsigned: “We will get it done. I don’t want to talk about the contract in the media, but we will get it done. Darius had a quad (injuries), hurt it at the Combine. Then, being Darius, he was going to work out still for teams. Working out for teams, he hurt it again and it got sore again. On the first day of rookie minicamp, he tweaked it again. So we said, ‘Let’s get him right, shut him down and rehab him.’ He will be fine.
–On defensive end Chris McCain, who was accused of physical assault earlier in the year, which led the Colts to keep him out the final week of the offseason: “I don’t know if we are any closer than we were back then. What we don’t want to do is let the process play out and make a rash decision. We are getting two extremes of the truth. We are going to bring him into Training Camp and let the process play out. We make it perfectly clear we are not going to tolerate certain things and putting a hand on a woman is an issue. He will be in camp. We will let the process play out and then make a decision from there.”
-On the linebacker position: “We have a bunch of unproven players. Every team in the league has a hole. Every team does. It’s our job to find answers for it, whether it’s through free agency, the draft, or after cut down time, or adding a veteran at some point during the season. I do like (Anthony) Walker. He had a heck of a spring. (Najee) Goode has been a good addition for us. Then you have all those young bodies. Then you have (Antonio) Morrison, who plays on heart and toughness, which you love. We have guys that have the athletic traits to play in the scheme. Let’s see if they can do it.”
-On the cornerback group “I want to see these young kids play. How do you get better unless you play? We like (Pierre) Desir. We like (Quincy) Wilson. I love Kenny Moore. I think Kenny Moore has a chance to be a really, really good player. And he was a claim guy (from New England after last year’s preseason).”
-Ballard calls the offensive and defensive lines the team’s strength going into camp. It’s been a while since the Colts have used that word for their play in the trenches.
-A few players that have stood out to Ballard are OG-Matt Slauson, DL-Denico Autry and CB-Kenny Moore. The GM is very high on Autry and Moore. Autry figures to start at defensive tackle, whereas Moore is competing for playing time at cornerback.
And here’s an overview of injuries for the Colts going into camp next week:
Injury Watch (PUP-Physically Unable to Perform list means a player cannot practice, but can come off that list at any time during the preseason)
- OL-Deyshwan Bond (leg): Most likely to be ready to go. It will be mostly individual drills early. Working into some reps in that first week. He’s really close to being ready, says Ballard. The Colts don’t foresee any long-term issue. Most likely he doesn’t end up on PUP to start camp.
- LT-Anthony Castonzo (hamstring): The veteran left tackle pulled a hamstring last week training. Ballard said the Colts might put him on PUP to start camp, but they don’t expect it to be longer than a couple of days.
- S-Clayton Geathers (knee): The fourth-year safety had a knee procedure earlier this year. It flared up late in the 2017 season and the surgery was to clean out his knee. The expectation is that this injury will not linger. Geathers is probably 80-to-85 percent right now, Ballard said. Most likely, he will start camp on PUP. “How long he’s on there, I’m not quite sure, but he’s pretty close. He’s worked his tail off and he’s pretty good to being ready to go,” Ballard said. The GM said the neck is fine for Geathers.
- WR-Krishawn Hogan (knee): He’s right at the 9-month mark from tearing his ACL in early October last year. He will be good to go. We are really pleased with how he’s doing. We need to be smart with his reps in the first couple of weeks and not overload him. He should be good and ready to go.
- S-Malik Hooker (knee) He will start camp on PUP. He’s not at the 9-month mark yet (from his ACL surgery) That will be around August 9, 10. That’s the day where the statistics tell you that at 9 months is where the chance of re-injuring the ACL significantly drops and each week out from then it continues to significantly drop, said Ballard. Hooker’s return should come in early-to-mid August, according to Ballard. “We think he will be good for the second part of the preseason and into the season,” the GM said. “Anytime you are coming back from an ACL it takes time though.’
- LB-Darius Leonard (quad): Good to go after missing the entire spring.
- QB-Andrew Luck: Good to go. The plan is still for Luck to mimic a regular season schedule of practice during camp (3 days on, 1 day off, 1 ‘game day’ on). He will have days off, but no limitations when practicing.
- RB-Marlon Mack (shoulder): He’s good to go. Mack will wear a brace after missing the entire spring following labrum surgery. No limitations for the second-year running back.
- OL-Jack Mewhort (knee): Good to go after participating in the spring. Mewhort will get a few veteran rest days, but he’s healthy.
- TE-Erik Swoope (knee): He’s good to go after missing the entire spring and last year. The Colts will modify his reps at camp.
- OL-Jeremy Vujnovich (calf): He had a pretty good pull on that calf that kept him off the field this spring. The Colts should know more next week when veterans report for camp.
- The following names should be good to go for camp: CB-Nate Hairston, CB-Chris Milton, CB-D.J. White and CB-Quincy Wilson.