Colts say QB Luck (shoulder) cleared for camp


INDIANAPOLIS -- Good to go. No limitations.
Those are words that many have been waiting to hear for more than a year during the three-year saga surrounding Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck and his right shoulder.
Colts general manager Chris Ballard, speaking after a tour of the team's new training camp facility Friday, said Luck will take starting-quarterback reps when the team has its first practice on Thursday. Luck will not throw every day during training camp. The Colts, as was discussed during minicamp, want Luck to mimic the regular season as much as possible when it comes to his throwing.
"Andrew is an elite competitor and a pretty rare one," Ballard said. "I think we've seen that during 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 more of getting the live reps versus live people. That's the timing, getting used to moving in the pocket. All those are the things you have to get used to."
Being a full participant in practice is another step in what has been three years since Luck originally injured his right shoulder against Tennessee in Week 3 of the 2015 season.
Luck had surgery on his right shoulder in January 2017 after playing through pain in the shoulder during the entire 2016 season. He missed the team's offseason workouts, all of training camp and eventually the entire 2017 season after experiencing soreness that couldn't be remedied by a cortisone shot once he started practicing in the middle of October. Luck also spent about six weeks in the Netherlands rehabbing his shoulder in late 2017.
Luck threw a football in front of the media for the first time during the first two days of the team's mandatory minicamp in June. It was then that Ballard noticed up to five passes that Luck "really let it go" and the GM saw signs of him returning to form. Luck continued his training while also throwing to receivers out in California after the team broke for the offseason.
Ballard wasn't ready to say how much Luck will play in the preseason, but he knows that his franchise quarterback needs snaps because he hasn't played in a game since Week 17 of the 2016 season. The Colts' first three preseason games are against Seattle, Baltimore and San Francisco. They will also have two joint practices with the Ravens.
"He needs to play. ... But it is a fine line," Ballard said.
Because practicing is different from playing in a regular-season game, questions will likely continue about his availability until he plays in the Week 1 opener against Cincinnati. The quarterback has already said he plans to play in that game.
Luck was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 draft and led the Colts to the playoffs in each of his first three seasons. He has missed 26 games over the past three seasons because of injuries, including a lacerated kidney in 2015, after not missing a meaningful snap in his first three seasons.
"I still think we're going to get questions until he lines up and plays again and then plays high-level football again," Ballard said. "I can just see the panic the first time he throws an interception. I can see it. It's just part of what we do. He understands it. He gets it. Know what's been fun and neat is watching is his growth as a man and who he is. I've watched his confidence grow."
In other Colts news, Clayton Geathers (knee) likely will join fellow safety Malik Hooker (knee) on the physically unable to perform list at the beginning of camp. Both are projected to be starters. Starting left tackle Anthony Castonzo could also start on PUP, Ballard said, after he injured his hamstring while working out recently. If that happens, he would be on PUP for a short time.