Something is hampering Andrew Luck. The quarterback didn’t much participate in Indianapolis Colts training camp, and at this point it’s not entirely clear whether Luck will be ready for the regular-season opener on Sept. 8.
But what, exactly, is Luck battling? We don’t know.
It seems Luck prefers it that way.
Calf, Achilles, ‘small bone’ ... we don’t know for sure
If you haven’t been following along, last month Luck’s injury was deemed to be to his calf, and the Colts were using an abundance of caution because of what happened to NBA star Kevin Durant during the NBA Finals. Durant tried to play through a calf injury and tore his Achilles, an injury that will have him rehabbing for a year.
But this week, team owner Jim Irsay was on SiriusXM NFL radio and said Luck’s injury isn’t with the Achilles but “a small little bone.”
There has been, of course, speculation, and some charge that Indianapolis coach Frank Reich and general manager Chris Ballard aren’t being transparent enough about the status of their franchise player.
Blaming Reich and Ballard, however, isn’t entirely fair.
Deep need for privacy complicates things
Stephen Holder, Colts reporter for The Athletic, wrote a story on Thursday that aims to shed a some light on why it seems we can never get a clear answer when it comes to Luck’s health and injury status.
Holder recalls December 2015, when a “high-ranking team source” told him that Luck had dealt with torn rib cartilage earlier that season and needed pain-killing injections before games.
This was in addition to shoulder and kidney injuries Luck dealt with the same season.
Holder approached Luck one-on-one with the information and Luck “became visibly uncomfortable,” he wrote. “It was as if he’d rather be anywhere else in the world at that moment.”
Luck will talk about just about anything, Holder noted, but bring up injuries and he gets “weird” — which is his right, but that doesn’t make it easier for a fandom with a voracious desire to know what’s going on with their team or fantasy football squad.
Reich and Ballard “have been placed in the awkward position of trying to walk a fine line between honestly answering questions on the subject but also trying to satisfy Luck’s desire to share as little as possible about his injuries,” Holder writes.
Keeping friends in the dark
Holder said it’s not just the public at large that Luck keeps in the dark; even his teammates and close friends, like former Indianapolis backup Matt Hasselbeck, don’t know the full extent of his injury.
“In one particular instance,” Holder writes. “When Luck was questionable for a game, he wouldn’t test the shoulder until teammates had left the team facility and only those on a need-to-know basis were present to watch him throw in the indoor practice facility.”
Luck likely wonders why anyone cares about his leg. He just wants to be one of the guys, treated the same as all of the other Colts on the roster. Part of the problem, of course, is that as a No. 1 draft pick, Pro Bowler and face of the franchise, that’s just not possible.
More than two weeks ago, on July 30, Reich and Luck spoke with reporters. Reich answered questions about the quarterback’s health as best as he could, and added, “I’ll let him elaborate ... if he wants to elaborate.”
Luck somewhat reluctantly offered information, but chose his words carefully.
“The nature of it is a calf strain,” he said. “I say lower leg because I feel pain in my ankle area. ...
“I guess I’ll get a little specific. I’ve had images, X-rays and everything. My Achilles is not an extra risk. There is no tear or swelling or anything that’s indicated. So, it’s a calf strain and we’re on our feet a lot. I know to be the best quarterback I want to be, to help this team like I want to help them. … I’m not looking for average. And if I’m going out here in pain, I’ll be average.”
At the time, he gave a glimpse into his mindset. Asked if he could play if he had to, Luck said, “I’ve played in football games with way more pain.”
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