KRAVITZ: After Luck’s longest year, he’s healthy and confident, but not out of the woods yet.


KRAVITZ: After Luck’s longest year, he’s healthy and confident, but not out of the woods yet.

Andrew Luck looked good, buff in fact, and he sounded reasonably upbeat and he said all the hopeful things about his eventual return to the football field -- but, then, he looked and sounded upbeat and said lots of hopeful things when he returned to practice Oct. 12, only to end up on the injured list Nov. 2.

The truth is, we truly don’t know if and when Luck will come back and lead the Indianapolis Colts because he hasn’t begun a real throwing regimen, which is expected to begin early in January. We don’t know – nobody knows – if he’s going to start throwing and then feel that familiar pain and suffer that familiar inflammation that got him shut down in the first place. And even if everything goes well, even if he comes through this upcoming rehab stint in fine fettle, what’s to say problems won’t arise once he returns to OTA’s in April?

Not trying to be a nattering nabob of negativism, but it’s simply foolish to now proclaim that Luck has been cured after his shoulder surgery and is well on his way to a full recovery. That’s the hope, the Colts’ prayer, especially after this horrific football season, but this is not a fait accompli and won’t be until Luck takes the field for the team’s season opener next year.

“My gut and my feeling tell me I won’t need another surgery; I’m very optimistic,’’ Luck said during his first media availability since Oct. 12. “ I feel really good today. I do not think I need another surgery. I believe in the process I’m in right now. I plan on being ready for everything (including April OTA’s).’’

While Luck was over in Europe, there was lots of speculation that he was receiving treatments that are not FDA-approved in the United States – like Peyton Manning and Kobe Bryant, among many others, received overseas. Luck said that wasn’t the case, saying he spent eight hours a day with a therapist in the Netherlands with whom he is familiar, who did soft tissue work, strength training and other modalities to get his shoulder right.

“Really not much more to it than that,’’ he said. “Nothing crazy, no injections, nothing out of the ordinary.’’

Some, I understand, will question the veracity of that statement. And yes, if it was just basic rehab, why didn’t the Colts make a point of telling us that their franchise quarterback was overseas doing nothing more than going through his paces with a trainer? By saying nothing, it inspired lots of speculation that he was trying non-FDA-approved treatments – not that there’s anything wrong with that, by the way.

So why the Netherlands and not, say, Carmel? Luck said he needed to get away, needed to fully focus on his rehabilitation under the cover of relative anonymity.

“I think I realized in my mind that it was necessary for me to get away,’’ Luck said. “I was allowing myself to get pulled in too many different directions. It was hard for me to keep a singular focus on just getting better and getting better and getting better. I allowed myself to become a distraction, which I did not want to be. I needed to keep it simple and that meant getting away. But it’s been very productive.’’

Still, the question remains unanswered: Why has it taken so long? This was supposed to be a 6-to-8 month recovery that would have put him on pace to return to the team early in the season. Instead, it’s taken more than a year. And he’s still not completely out of the woods just yet.

“You know…I don’t know; I wish I could tell you, then I could tell myself,’’ he said. “…From what I understand, with surgeries, people come out different from them. I’m very happy with the surgery and it did what I needed it to do. But maybe there are some things I need to do that are outside the average and that’s OK, and I’ll keep working through it.’’

It’s been a long, and we mean really long year for Luck, who truly believed he would make it back onto the field sometime this season. Chuck Pagano said Luck has been “through hell,’’ although when we asked Luck about that, he laughed and dismissed the notion. Yeah, it’s been lonely and frustrating, but at some point, virtually every football player goes through this difficult process of surgery and rehabilitation. Why, he wondered, should he be different?

And yet, when he was asked about his lowest point during the one-year ordeal, he hesitated, went silent for a good four, five seconds and seemed to get mildly choked up.

“Low point,’’ he said, repeating the question. Then he paused. “Low point.’’ Another pause. “There was a time a couple of weeks away from here, in early December, it was pretty difficult for me to sort of see the positive in things.’’

He did not get specific, which is absolutely no surprise.

He did offer a glimpse into his mindset when he was asked if he ever thought that this might be career-ending. Initially, he dismissed the notion, saying, “No, I never entertained that thought.’’ Then he continued and said, “Yeah, it’s crossed my mind but I don’t think that at all.’’

As for speculation that Luck was upset about Jim Irsay’s “between the ears’’ comments, that a rift was growing between Luck’s camp and the organization and that he might want out of Indianapolis, Luck quickly demurred.

The story on Andrew Luck is still not fully written. These next few weeks, during which he will begin throwing a football, are enormously important and will go a long way toward determining his short-term – and perhaps long-term -- future. Now? It feels fine. “It feels stronger, more stable,’’ he said. “I have more confidence in it.’’

Good news, sure. But he’s not out of the woods yet. Not by any stretch of the imagination.

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