Colts’ Luck back in preseason after missing all of 2017

Andrew Luck gives the thumbs up after completing a pass during a 2018 preseason game.The Indianapolis Colts might have their quarterback back. Andrew Luck played a preseason game on Monday, which is the most positive sign yet in his lengthy recovery from the shoulder injury that forced him to miss all of last season. The Colts lost the game to the Baltimore Ravens, but the most positive sign for Indianapolis was seeing Luck’s shoulder able to handle NFL contact once again.

It’s easy to forget that Luck was considered one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL before his injury, as well as the most important piece of the Colts’ offense. Indianapolis went from being one of the top passing offenses in the league with Luck under center, to one of the worst without him in 2017 with quarterbacks like Scott Tolzien and Jacoby Brissett. The only team to gain fewer yards of total offense than Indianapolis last season were the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Colts’ reliance on Luck could have been part of the reason he decided against surgery after initially hurting his shoulder during the 2015 season. He played most of 2016, missing just one game due to a concussion despite the shoulder injury being a weekly concern, and eventually had surgery in early 2017. The long recovery process meant that Luck didn’t resume practicing until nine months after the procedure, and even then he experienced some soreness. He didn’t throw another football at a Colts practice until 2018.

By contrast, Luck’s appearance in a 20-19 preseason loss to Baltimore on Monday was a huge positive, even if it doesn’t look that way on the stat sheet: 6-of-13 for 50 yards passing with an interception and two sacks for 19 yards lost. As odd as it may seem, the sacks were probably the most positive part of Luck’s appearance, because he was able to handle them without issue. Brissett played the bulk of Monday’s game, but Luck is expected to play the entire first half on Saturday against the San Francisco 49ers in what will likely be the biggest stress test on his shoulder before the regular season begins.