Indianapolis Colts GM Chris Ballard confirmed on Monday that quarterback Andrew Luck will not be ready to play in their Week 1 game at the LA Rams. Luck, who is recovering from shoulder surgery that probably should have happened much sooner, avoided being placed on the PUP list which would have guaranteed he’d miss at least six games.
But resident NFL armchair doctor David Chao makes a good case that Luck may miss at least that much time anyway. So why wouldn’t the Colts place Luck on PUP and save a roster spot if they knew he could be out six weeks? As Chao notes, Luck would not be able to practice while he’s on PUP, which would mean he may not actually be ready for a start until at least a couple of weeks until after he’s activated. Additionally, because Luck is the team’s most important player, they’d prefer to have the option of bringing him back as soon as possible, even if it’s just one game sooner.
The Seattle Seahawks face Indy in Week 4, on Sunday Night Football, so Luck’s potential absence into October is quite relevant to the team.
Without Luck, the Colts are set to start Scott Tolzien against the Rams. Tolzien, who turned 30 on Monday, made one start for Indianapolis last season, going 22-of-36 for 205 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT in a 28-7 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. It was his third career start, after having going 0-1-1 for the Green Bay Packers in 2013 — he threw three interceptions in the loss and went 7-of-17 for 98 yards in the tie.
All told, Scott Tolzien has two touchdowns and seven interceptions over a career that started in 2011; he played college football at Wisconsin before being replaced with Russell Wilson and then going undrafted.
Luck is not the only Colts player of significance who will miss Week 1 and possibly Week 4: Cornerback Vontae Davis and center Ryan Kelly are expected to miss multiple games and have been ruled out against LA. There’s a good chance that they’ll be no better than questionable vs the Seahawks in Week 4. That is arguably three of Indy’s five best players, along with T.Y. Hilton and Anthony Castonzo.
My expectation for the Colts upcoming season was probably topped out at 8-8 even with Luck, but without him and those other two, they may never recover from a potential 0-3 or 0-4 start. It could give the Rams an early 1-0 start on the season, followed by the Colts having a Week 2 matchup against the Arizona Cardinals, but there’s little reason to expect Indianapolis to do better than “hang in there” for the time being.