The Indianapolis Colts won’t get to ease into the 2019 NFL season, as they’ll open the season in Los Angeles on Sept. 8 against the Chargers, who are dark-horse Super Bowl contenders. Andrew Luck still says the plan is for him to be under center for the Colts that day.
Colts head coach Frank Reich said this past weekend that the team doesn’t expect to have their franchise quarterback available to practice for at least another week. With just over a month until their first regular season game, Luck remains optimistic.
“I certainly believe I will [be ready for Week 1],” Luck said to Peter King of Football Morning in America. “That’s certainly the goal.”
There do appear to be some qualifiers in Luck’s assessment of whether he’ll be ready for Week 1. Given Luck’s injury history, that will lead to some speculation that the soon-to-be 30-year-old’s calf injury has left him less than certain about whether he’ll be available to open the season.
Surgery on his throwing shoulder ultimately cost Luck the entire 2017 season. He later admitted that following a slew of injuries, he wasn’t sure if he would ever be physically capable of playing in the NFL again.
Luck did ultimately return in 2018, and did so in grand fashion. The 2012 No. 1 overall pick tossed 39 touchdowns in 2018, while throwing for 4,593 yards. A year after going 4-12 without Luck, the Colts won seven of their last eight regular season games in 2018, allowing them to win the final Wild Card spot in the AFC. Luck was voted the Comeback Player of the Year.
But even after playing all 16 games in 2018, there’s an understandable sense of uneasiness from Luck about his latest injury.
“At times I do worry about it. It can be frustrating. The arc of an injury, whether it’s a big surgical one or something you’re rehabbing through. But no, because I’ve improved. Maybe I’m not improving as fast as I want and missing things is no fun. It eats at you. But I do know at the end of the day if I’m getting the most out of myself, if I’m being the best I can that day, then that’s what I need to do.”
As noted in this week’s edition of three NFL takeaways, the AFC South has a chance to be the most competitive division in football in 2019. A year ago, the Colts went 10-6, which allowed them to finish second to the division champion Houston Texans and a game above the 9-7 Tennessee Titans. The Jacksonville Jaguars were the only team in the division that finished with a losing record, and that came a year after they made it to the AFC Championship. With former Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles now under center, the Jaguars expect to return to the postseason in 2019.
If Luck isn’t ready to play Week 1, the Colts do appear to be in a good situation with Jacoby Brissett as their backup. While Brissett has just a 5-12 record as a starter, he’s thrown 13 touchdowns and just seven picks in his NFL career. Notably, the Colts reportedly turned down an offer of a second-round pick for Brissett ahead of the 2018 season presumably because they feel confident about his ability to step in for Luck.
Even if Luck is able to start Week 1, a slow start in 2019 could potentially damage the Colts playoff chances in such a competitive division. The good news for Luck and the Colts is that only one of their first five games comes against a divisional opponent - Week 2 against the Titans.