CINCINNATI — Andrew Luck's timing this time around is impeccable.
Luck suffered a minor foot injury in the Indianapolis Colts' third preseason game last Saturday against the San Francisco 49ers, and ended up sitting out practice this week as the team prepared for its preseason finale against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Could he have played on that foot if a regular season game was on the horizon? Sure, head coach Frank Reich said, but because the Colts' starters weren't going to play in the finale anyway, the timing of having a few days off couldn't have been better.
And, by the way, don't worry about the foot issue lingering into the team's Week 1 preparations for their opener, also against the Bengals, beginning on Monday with practice at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.
"He's good to go. He'll practice on Monday," Reich told reporters Thursday night after the preseason finale. "He's looking good."
The Colts' season opener against the Bengals will represent Luck's first appearance in a regular season game in exactly 616 days. The seventh-year Stanford product last took the field for a game that counts on Jan. 1, 2017, and helped lead the Colts to a 24-20 victory.
A few weeks later, Luck had surgery to repair his injured throwing shoulder, and although he tried to work his way back to the field, he was eventually shut down and placed on Injured Reserve by early November.
Luck has been immersed in an intense rehab regimen since that time, and has seen tremendous progress — particularly in the past few months. He started throwing a regulation football towards the end of the Colts' offseason workout program, ramped up his repertoire in the six-week break between minicamp and training camp, and was able to take on a full practice load by July 26, when the team reported to Grand Park Sports Campus in Westfield, Ind., for the start of camp.
By the time the preseason action had wrapped up for Luck and the first-team Colts offense, he had checked off many more boxes. In three games — against the Seahawks, Baltimore Ravens and the 49ers — Luck combined to complete 20-of-32 passes for 204 yards, one touchdown and one interception for a passer rating of 83.1.
The 11th and final drive for Luck this preseason was undoubtedly the unit's best. The Colts converted on a 4th and 1 play and, later in the drive, Luck scrambled for 15 yards inside the 49ers' 20-yard line as he faced a 3rd and 13. On the very next play, Luck found tight end Eric Ebron down the seam for a 15-yard touchdown pass, officially putting the cherry on top to what has been nothing but positive steps forward in No. 12's comeback.
Now, the Colts and Luck forge their way into the regular season.
"He's starting and we feel good about where he's at. That's a good thing for all of us and it's a good thing for him," Reich said. "We've got a long way to go, and we all need to keep fighting to get better. It's been a good process and we appreciate his leadership and how diligent he's worked to be ready to go Week 1."