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INDIANAPOLIS – The look of Andrew Luck is back.
His confidence is there as well.
Over the past 9 months, Luck has met the media on 4 separate occasions, with the quarterback having to speak on missing an entire season, and to the recent joy of actually throwing passes in practice.
How has Luck evolved since last October, when Luck threw for the first time in 2017?
-October 2017: Luck Practices
At times it seems like we forget that Luck was tossing the ball 40 yards last fall.
Yes, Luck looked the part. And he said then, with zero uncertainly, that he would play in 2017.
But there were still some issues for Luck, as he ended up practicing just 4 times, on a very limited schedule.
“I’ve got work to do to get to a level where I feel comfortable going out there and whipping every throw in a sense, so I’ve still got some work to do,” Luck said in October. “And that’s part of the process. That’s part of the program that I’m on. That’s part of why now I’m starting to integrate back into practice, because certain things I can do and feel pretty darn good doing. Now there’s other things that I need to continue to work on.”
In looking back on Luck’s comments from last fall, he still wasn’t comfortable enough to admit the missteps he took. Luck didn’t publicly admit those until back in April.
“I do not think that there have been any setbacks at all,” Luck said in October.
After just 2 weeks of light practice last October, persistent pain surfaced for Luck, leading to a cortisone shot. When that didn’t help the cause enough, Luck was eventually placed on injured reserve on Nov. 2.
–December 2017: Luck Returns from the Netherlands
Off to the Netherlands Luck then went for nearly 2 months, spending Thanksgiving and Christmas across the pond.
“I realized in my mind that it was necessary for me to sort of get away because I was allowing myself to get pulled in too many directions and it was hard for me to keep a singular focus on just getting better and getting better and getting better,” Luck said of the reason he went to the Netherlands, where he says no medical procedures were done to him. “I think I allowed myself to become a distraction, which I did not want to be. I think I just needed to keep it simple and that meant getting away.”
Luck, who sounded like a guy struggling without the game he loved, said he watched what he could of Colts’ games, but even that was difficult.
“It was weird, really weird,” he said. “It’s hard to describe. It’s like watching one of your siblings play a sport. You get really nervous and you feel quite helpless because you have zero control over what goes on. Coming to terms with having zero control over what goes on I think was important for me in that regard.”
For a guy who had never dealt with such a significant injury, Luck was a bit beat up mentally.
“There was a time, probably a couple weeks in to being away from here, in early December, that was pretty difficult for me to sort of see the positive in things,” the quarterback said in Week 17 last year.
Luck said in December he would be ready for the mandatory parts of the 2018 offseason program. But that participation during the mandatory minicamp was without any team reps.
Just a few weeks after acknowledging the lowest point in his then year-long rehab, Luck didn’t sound like his normal self.
-April 2018: Rehab Shifts To Indy
Luck’s confidence took almost a 180 when April 9 arrived for the start of the Colts offseason program.
After more than 3 months back in the states, with working out in California, Luck sounded totally different from the last time he met the media.
“I am very confident in myself,” Luck said following his work out west.
Unlike in October, Luck also felt comfortable divulging that he skipped steps in this right shoulder rehab process.
“One of the things I’ve learned about myself is that I’m quite impatient as a person, and it’s got me into places, looking back at the rehab, that maybe I shouldn’t have been in in the first place,” Luck said. “So I don’t want to repeat those maybe missteps. I cannot skip steps. I very, very strongly believe in that. Some things just take time, and I’ve learned that. And when I do get the urge to do something a little silly, I talk to myself and say, ‘It’s not worth it right now.’
“I think I pushed a little too hard on certain things and didn’t give the requisite amount of time for certain things to happen. Your body, as I’m learning, will tell you, ‘No,’ in certain ways, and you’ve got to listen to it. You can’t force things to happen, and I think I convinced myself that I could force things to happen and I paid for it. I think I felt like I was becoming a distraction. I think I maybe wasn’t the best guy to be around, so I’ve learned from that and that’s why I feel so strongly about the process and the plan that I’m on now.”
The continued steps forward throughout the start of 2018 were why Luck sounded so different from his tone at the end of 2017.
“Progress has been my guiding light, and I’ve just made progress,” Luck said at the start of the offseason program. “That’s all I’ve done over the past couple months, and I feel it every week, every day. And if I wasn’t making progress, it would freak me out, and I would have to change something and we’d have to look at other things.
“I have a goal. I want to go into Training Camp without a governor on in my mind on anything and feeling really, really good. So, as far as participation in this offseason, we’ll see what happens. I don’t anticipate doing too much or you guys seeing me doing too much out there, but I really want to be ready for Training Camp without the governor on if you will.”
-June 2018: Luck Throws!
Luck was right. He barely did anything in front of the media during the offseason program.
But it doesn’t sound like his goal of having the ‘governor’ off his mind will be there.
The Colts have a Training Camp plan for Luck that includes rest days, with the quarterback wanting to replicate a normal regular season week of 3 straight days of throwing before an off day and then a ‘game day’ of throwing.
Compared to 2015, when Luck played through pain, the quarterback is adamant that his arm feels better now than it did then.
“My dips after training are much less,” Luck says. “My body doesn’t revolt, in a sense, to new things I ask. The new things that I do ask of it are sort of incremental and planned out very, very well. It allows myself to adapt to it, if that makes sense. I’m trusting in that and I push myself. We go hard. You might not see it, but we go hard. I just feel like I improve and I don’t dip as much. I don’t have, ‘Oh my gosh, I can’t move my arm for the rest of the day.’ It’s like, ‘Alright, when are we going next? How are we going? Let’s recover, let’s move.’”
Still nearly 3 months away from the 2018 regular season opener, Luck laughed off a question about him being ready to go for Week 1.
“No, no knock on wood. I’m going to be there,” Luck said. “I’ll be playing. I believe it in my bones.”