INDIANAPOLIS —For possibly the first time in his football career, Andrew Luck felt a little awkward on a football field on Wednesday.
After undergoing surgery to repair the posterior labrum in his right throwing shoulder in January following the conclusion of the 2016 season, Luck had spent most of his days in the past nine-plus months recovering and then rehabbing — not taking snaps, not working on his dropbacks, and certainly not throwing to his receivers.
So when he hit the practice field for the first time all year on Wednesday — clearing a major hurdle in his recovery — even the little things that had long ago been logged into Luck's muscle memory took just a little time to get re-adjusted to, he told reporters after the session.
"Simple things — even going out today and taking a snap from center from a guy with sweaty pants on a hot, humid day, it's, 'OK, can I take a snap?,'" Luck said. "It's not just the shoulder, but re-learning and finding out how to use your whole body throwing again, and drops, and timing with receivers will be vital."
But make no mistake: Luck was absolutely ecstatic to finally get the opportunity to get out on the practice field with his teammates in any capacity. He participated in individual drills and then got the opportunity to throw some routes to his uncovered receivers before heading back into the team facility to continue his rehab program.
"It was fun to be back on a field with teammates and put a jersey on and a helmet, those little things that — I know this is very cliché — but you do take those things for granted," Luck said. "And then just to put a helmet on and have a jersey with a 12 on it and get to go out there and warm up with the guys and throw a couple passes and do some drills in a team setting was fun, and, more importantly, it's part of me getting better; part of me getting back into the swing of things — into being a quarterback; into being the quarterback for this team."
While Wednesday's practice was certainly a step in the right direction for Luck and his recovery, he was careful not to attach any sort of timetable for his return to game action.
Although he's confident he'll be back on the field at some point this season — "Yeah —* oh yes*" was his unequivocal answer when he was asked that question on Wednesday — Luck said his focus remains on daily improvement. He'll be off the field on Thursday, continuing the "one-on, one-off" schedule he's been following in his throwing program of late, and then is expected to return to practice in a limited fashion once again on Friday, head coach Chuck Pagano said.
"I've got work to do to get to a level where I feel comfortable going out there and whipping every throw, in a sense," Luck said. "So I've still got some more to (do) — and that's part of the process. That's part of the program that I'm on, it's part of why now I'm starting to integrate back into practice because certain things I can do — and feel pretty darn good doing; now there's other things that I need to continue to work on."
Luck was asked if he was surprised that he was just now starting to practice, entering the fifth week of the regular season, versus maybe sometime during training camp or the preseason. He said he knew going in the very nature of his operation generally translates to a longer healing process than others, and that he has experienced no setbacks in his recovery leading up to Wednesday's practice.
"I understood when I elected to get surgery to try not to be surprised by anything, and to understand that this is going to be a long process — a really long process," he said. "I'm not surprised in a sense that we're here now. What I know is true is that I've continued to get better — and better and better. And if you take a week-long snapshot, I know I'm better now than I was at this point last week.
"I got to go out there and throw and do stuff in practice, and it felt pretty darn good," he continued. "So again, that's just sort of where my focus has to be — and it is — and I don't know if it's positive for me to think too much about other things."
Luck Returns to Practice!