Frank Reich claims the Colts plan to play Andrew Luck more than normal this preseason. That may be detrimental to the franchise quarterback’s health.
Everyone in Indianapolis is getting very excited about Andrew Luck’s recovery from injury. Various people who’ve rolled through Colts training camp say that Luck is really starting to look like himself. It’s up to the team’s front office and coaching staff to make sure they don’t push their franchise quarterback too hard.
The most concerning news coming from the team’s training camp is the realization that Frank Reich wants to extend Luck’s playing time during the preseason. His logic makes a lot of sense. It’s been a while since Luck has had the opportunity to go up against hostile opposition. It’s reasonable to assume that giving him more preseason playing time than normal will better equip him to be effective for the Colts in Week 1.
Unfortunately, that’s a real good example of short-term thinking. The Colts need to worry about Luck’s health for the entire 2018 season. If they have any shot of making the playoffs it’s going to require Luck to have a phenomenal season. That means the team needs to put equal importance on his ability to play in Week 15 as they do in Week 1.
Exposing Luck to extra hits during the preseason only increases the chances that he’ll suffer another significant injury. Even if his shoulder holds up, there’s nothing to prevent a defender from delivering a blow to another part of his body. A torn ACL would be almost as bad as another significant shoulder injury for Luck’s long-term prognosis.
The right thing for Reich and the coaching staff to do would be to play things with Luck by ear. If he plays well and looks sharp early in the preseason they should significantly lower his reps in subsequent games. In short, they should only play Luck as much as they need to. The minute he starts to look like the All-Pro quarterback he used to be, the franchise should get him off the field as soon as possible.
The temptation to let Luck play a ton this preseason is entirely understandable, but it’s the wrong choice for the Colts. Fans should hope that cooler heads prevail before Luck pays for the franchise’s mistake by suffering a significant injury during a meaningless preseason game.