From 2012-14, no quarterback was on pace for a more productive career than Andrew Luck. The 2012 NFL Draft’s first-overall pick lived up to the hype, garnering three Pro Bowl selections in his first three years, guiding the Colts to three consecutive 11-5 finishes, and set almost every Colts rookie passing record previously held by Peyton Manning.
Two years of issues, and a right shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum, have sent one of the league’s best signal callers’ career on a tangent. After spending the 2017 season on injured reserve, Luck is healthy, focused and ready to reclaim his spot among the NFL’s elite this year.
“As I look back, if do a sort of self-scout over the first part of my career, there are hits that I could’ve avoided taking,” Luck told reporters at Colts training camp. “And there are times when the ball could’ve been thrown away, or another decision made, that would maybe would have spared me a hit here or there.
“Now do I regret not doing that? No. But will I learn from that? Absolutely.”
The Stanford alum shined at Indianapolis’ Sunday night practice at Westfield’s Grand Park this past weekend.
Zac Keefer of the Indianapolis Star noted that luck went 19-for-22 passing and tossed two touchdowns against no interceptions in the fully padded practice.
“It was fun,” Luck said on Sunday, “being able to focus on getting better at practice, not just getting through practice and surviving — surviving to the next one.”
Luck’s injury history includes missing nine games in 2015 with a lacerated kidney and torn abdominal muscle.
At different times in his career, the Colts quarterback has led the NFL in completions, attempts, completion percentage, yards, yards per completion, touchdown passes, interceptions, and quarterback rating; he’s also led all NFL quarterbacks in rushing attempts, yards and touchdowns in a season.
Luck is an elite quarterback carrying an Indianapolis Colts franchise trying to build a contending team around their superstar.
Having Luck back at 100 percent will take time, but under new head coach Frank Reich, Luck has one of the NFL’s best quarterback coaches to guide him back to that elite level of a few years ago.
Reich served as the Eagles’ offensive coordinator over the past two seasons, grooming Carson Wentz to a near-MVP award in only his second NFL season. Prior to Philadelphia, Reich was the quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator with the San Diego Chargers, working with Philip Rivers.
Reich’s first season in 2013 was the year Rivers won the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year.
More famously, though, Reich was the quarterback of the Buffalo Bills’ fabled 32-point comeback in the 1992 playoffs to beat the Houston Oilers — it’s the largest comeback in NFL history.
For the seventh-year quarterback with 17 career game-winning drives, Luck and his new head coach seem like a match made in football heaven.
“I think it’s really fun,” Reich said about working with Luck. “You know, one of the highlights for me has been, you know, not just the on-the-field stuff, but talking to Andrew about how we call a game, and what we think, and what he thinks — how he feels about plays and about the rhythm of calls and progression of calls. So, that’ll build with time.”
Reich anticipates Luck playing a normal workload starting with Indy’s preseason opener against the Seahawks.
As Luck’s arm strength, and football conditioning return, Indianapolis’ chances to climb out of the basement of the AFC South continue to grow.
If Reich and Luck groom the Colts’ offense back into one of the NFL’s best units, then the entire AFC is going to be put on notice during the regular season.