Colts general manager Chris Ballard told the media earlier today that quarterback Andrew Luck will be cleared to participate fully when the Colts begin their training camp next week. This is good news for the Colts organization, as Luck missed all of last season while recovering from surgery on his throwing shoulder. Luck suffered a torn labrum in his right shoulder two seasons ago, and briefly returned to practice in October before being placed on injured reserve for the remainder of the season. Even though he has moved past a huge obstacle by being ready for training camp, this does not mean that Luck is 100% ready to start the regular season. Much work is needed to be done, especially with a new offensive system and scheme in place. With that being said, let’s take a look at what this clearance really means for Luck and what he will still need to accomplish before he can regain his superstar form.
With Luck now cleared for training camp, he will be able to begin practicing fully with the team once they arrive. This will prove to be huge in Luck regaining his previous form and fully recovering from the injury. While he obviously won’t practice every day during the training camp period, any practice is better than no practice when a player has missed as much time as Luck has. This is a great sign for his availability for week one of the regular season, but he must first be incorporated into practice one day at a time. Ballard has reiterated that Luck will not throw a football seven days in a row to start out. However, once he begins to practice sparingly at full intensity with no setbacks, he should be able to practice everyday and possibly even play some in the preseason.
The fact that Luck is back to throwing a football in an organized setting like training camp practices will help him in his return. There was a point where Luck had not thrown an NFL-sized football for over 18 months, a nightmare situation for a quarterback once regarded to be the best prospect to enter the NFL draft at the position in years. He will need to fine tune everything about his play. His timing with his receivers must be regained, along with his presence both in the huddle and in the locker room. His footwork and movement out of the pocket will also need to be fine tuned.
His arrival back into the offense will help not only the receivers, but his leadership and football IQ will also help the younger players on the offensive line and at running back learn. He will also be able to work on the communication with his offensive line and the other skill players both at the line and in the huddle, an overlooked asset for young group of players.
This is also very important because Luck and the rest of the Colts offense will have to learn a completely new offense with new head coach Frank Reich now in charge. This is where the preseason work will really come into handy for Luck. He will once again be able to put his skills to work in a game setting, with NFL defenses doing everything they can to prevent his new offense from moving the football.
Once we are able to see Luck trot onto the field during the preseason, the idea of him doing the same during the first week of the NFL regular season will become a reality (barring another injury of course). And while this clearance for training camp is an enormous step in the right direction for a player the Colts desperately need to help turn this team around, there is a lot of work that still needs to be done. His familiarity with the new coaching staff and offensive players will likely determine much of his performance right out of the gates. However if there is any player who is capable of pulling this off, it is Andrew Luck.