Yes, it actually happened. You didn’t dream it. It wasn’t a hallucination.
After 4 weeks of the NFL regular season, and months after the Colts originally said that he would, Andrew Luck returned to the practice field for the first time since his offseason shoulder surgery. He stretched, threw a couple, and dropped back. Nothing too exciting, but at this point of the season, just seeing #12 back in the red jersey at W. 56th St is cause for rejoice.
In a season that has not been what anyone hoped for, it’s positives like Luck returning to practice that this fan base needs. Don’t get too excited though. The Colts have continued to make it known that they aren’t expecting him to be ready to start until around Week 7. That means at least 2 more games with Jacoby Brissett behind center for the Colts.
Brissett has been a welcome surprise to many. Acquired through a trade with New England, he has seemed to be able to work pretty smoothly into this offense. Sure, the coaching staff seems to have simplified the playbook in an effort to get Brissett on the field sooner rather than later, but even so, Brissett has looked solid while keeping the seat warm for Luck.
Some fans have suggested that the Colts just hang Luck up for the season, in an effort to not only get healthy, but because the offensive line is still very lackluster. Through 4 weeks of play, the Colts offensive line is ranked 30th in run blocking and 29th in pass protection, according to FootballOutsiders.com. ProFootballFocus has the Colts pass protection just slightly higher than Football Outsiders, ranking the Colts line at 28th. It’s for this reason that many fans are fearful that if Luck comes back, it will just be to get injured again.
While the Colts O-line is bad, no doubt about it, I don’t believe that the team can sensibly consider benching Luck. The Colts offensive line is going to be subpar for the foreseeable future. That’s just a reality. Waiting for 2018 to have Luck come back would have no effect. This line is not going to be fixed in one offseason. So, if the Colts were to bench Luck, they’d just be wasting yet another season of this man’s NFL career. Luck gives this team the best chance to win. He is one of the best QBs in the NFL and a true competitor, and if he isn’t on the field, then he will certainly find some other place that will put him out there.
Which brings me to what is happening in Indianapolis this weekend. This week has been called “Manning Week” by several in the local sports media.
If you aren’t aware, the Colts are unveiling a statue outside of Lucas Oil Stadium (The House That Peyton Built) of Peyton Manning on Sunday, as well as inducting him into the “Ring of Honor” and retiring the famed #18. This is an honor that everyone in and around Indianapolis has been waiting for since Manning announced his retirement from football back in 2016.
Peyton Manning is the reason that many people around Indy are Colts fans. Before Peyton was drafted in 1998, the Colts history in Indianapolis wasn’t the greatest. Okay, that’s an understatement. The Colts hadn’t been good. The only memory I have of the Colts before 1998, is the game against the Steelers in 1995 with Jim Harbaugh. Manning successfully switched Indiana from a “basketball state”, to a football one. All of a sudden, people were naming their kids after Peyton. High School football peaked. Little league football blew up. Everyone wanted to grow up and be like Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison, Edgerrin James, etc. During Manning’s time in a Colts uniform, the city came alive every Sunday from August until January, and sometimes February. The city of Indianapolis is eternally greatful to Peyton Manning, and paying respect to him in the fashion that they are this weekend is 100% warranted.
I believe it’s the relationship with Peyton Manning that has the Colts fan base so weary about Andrew Luck. Luck was drafted with the weight of a city on his shoulders. He was the guy that this organization chose to take the reigns from one of the greatest of all time. Then, the injuries came. Specifically this latest one. Anytime that your star gets a major surgery, it’s cause for concern. However, Manning’s neck surgery is still fresh in everyone’s minds. We remember the days of wondering whether Manning would ever return to the gridiron. He did, and in spectacular fashion for the Denver Broncos, but that’s okay. The concern is with Andrew Luck now. It remains to be seen how Andrew will be able to sling the ball following this surgery. We all certainly hope that he can return to pre-surgery form, and lead this team back to the level of play that Manning spoiled us with for so many years.
So Andrew Luck is back on the practice field, and Peyton Manning will be back in Lucas Oil Stadfium this Sunday. Enjoy it. This week is a good one.