INDIANAPOLIS — With the month of July — and training camp — right around the corner, it's time for the Indianapolis Colts' Burning Questions series.
We start today with the quarterback position:
• Will Andrew Luck be good to go to start the regular season?
"I believe it in my bones."
That's how confident Andrew Luck is that he'll be in the starting lineup for the Colts' Week 1 matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Of course, between now and that point, Luck still has several boxes to check off his list to get there.
After undergoing shoulder surgery and missing the entire 2017 season — he attempted to return to practice in October, but was experiencing pain and was eventually shut down and placed on Injured Reserve — Luck began a much more intense rehab regimen that saw him seek treatment in the Netherlands, work with a throwing expert in California and then return to Indianapolis for the start of the team's offseason workout program in April.
Since that time, Luck has not only gotten a good mental grasp on the Colts' new offensive playbook under new head coach Frank Reich and offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni — he's taken significant steps forward in his throwing program.
With the strength portion completed weeks ago, Luck then began ramping up actual throws — first with weighted balls and smaller footballs, then with a high school-sized football and finally, and most recently, with a regulation-sized NFL football.
As it stands now, Luck will spend his break between the end of the Colts' offseason workout program and the start of training camp ramping up even more — working on specific types of throws — in order to be ready to go to participate in camp practices.
From there, the Colts hope to get Luck some preseason snaps and then, finally, he'll play in a regular-season NFL game for the first time since the 2016 regular season finale against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
• How much better is Jacoby Brissett now after a year of starting experience under his belt?
The Colts acquired quarterback Jacoby Brissett in a trade with the New England Patriots the week leading up to the team's 2017 regular season opener against the Los Angeles Rams.
Brissett was already on the field for the Colts by the fourth quarter of that opening game, and by the following Sunday, he was inserted as the starting quarterback.
Brissett wouldn't leave the field for the Colts' offense the rest of the season.
Considering the extremely difficult circumstances — up until early-November, the Colts were preparing for Luck's return at some point, so Brissett was only learning the gameplan for each specific opponent — the North Carolina State product performed admirably. He completed 276-of-469 (58.8 percent) passes for 3,098 yards and 13 touchdowns to seven interceptions, and displayed an extremely tough resolve, as he was sacked an NFL high 52 times on the year.
And now, as Luck has been working his way back to the field once again, Brissett was getting the first-team reps throughout the Colts' offseason workout program.
After almost a full season of starting experience, plus valuable first-team reps throughout this offseason under Reich and Sirianni, the 24-year-old Brissett is considered a more-than-capable option if he's called into duty again.
"I'm really impressed with Jacoby," Reich said last month. "First from an intangible standpoint, (he has) great character, great leadership, mentally is on top of it, really a good passer, and really a good decision maker. … You already see things – how quickly he processes information, gets to the right receiver. Obviously he had a lot of great experience last year. Jacoby played a lot of good football last year so I'm really glad he is here."
• Will the Colts consider carrying three quarterbacks on their 53-man roster?
Outside of a few notable exceptions, the Colts have traditionally always carried two quarterbacks on their 53-man roster.
Could that change in 2018 — or, at least, at the beginning of the season?
Although the organization has confidence Luck will be ready to go by Week 1 — and that its franchise quarterback will be better than ever — the uncertainty surrounding the situation could lead Reich and general manager Chris Ballard to decide to keep a third-string quarterback on the regular season roster until they're absolutely certain that Luck can not only make all the throws he needs to and not experience any negative effects, but that he can take hits from defenders, as well.
But, as of the team's mandatory minicamp, Reich said it was "probably too early to make that decision" about a third quarterback, but he's "not anticipating" that they'll actually have one.
"I think that's hard to do," Reich said. "I think that's a good question, but Chris (Ballard) and I will sit down at that point and think about that."
Behind Brissett, the Colts have utilized Brad Kaaya — a sixth-round pick by the Detroit Lions out of the University of Miami last year — and Phillip Walker — who went undrafted out of Temple in 2017 and spent much of the season on the Colts' practice squad — in work with the second and third teams.