Colts owner Jim Irsay: 'Odds are' Andrew Luck won't play opener, intimates issue is mental

While the fan bases of 31 NFL teams woke up Friday morning wondering which players will make the 53-man roster and if their camp longshot has done enough to earn a spot, fans of the Indianapolis Colts have a completely different concern:

When will our franchise quarterback play again?

It’s looking a lot like it won’t be next Sunday, when the Colts open the regular season against the Los Angeles Rams.

Waiting game: No one seems quite sure when Andrew Luck will return to the field for the Colts. (AP)

On Thursday night, after Indianapolis closed out its exhibition schedule with Luck not having taken a snap in training camp – he underwent labrum surgery earlier this year after playing in pain for the last two seasons, and is on the physically unable to perform list – owner Jim Irsay spoke with reporters and indicated it’s unlikely Luck will be ready for Week 1.

“Will he play against the Rams? Man I hope so, man I hope so,” Irsay said wistfully, according to the Indy Star. “I would say, again, the odds are most likely he probably won’t open up against the Rams. But let me be clear about it – in our minds it’s something that we haven’t ruled out. We’re going to see where he’s at. It would be awesome (if he can play). We’re not talking Willis Reed or something like that. (Andrew) is a young guy, 12 to 14 to 16, maybe 18 years, I don’t know, going forward (with the Colts). The longer the better, in my opinion.”

The Colts have until 4 p.m. Saturday to decide whether to place Luck on the active roster, which would allow him to start practicing with the team, or move him to the reserve PUP list, which would mean he couldn’t be activated until after the sixth week of the regular season.

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If Irsay is to be believed, and there’s even an outside chance Luck could play on Sept. 10, it would be a surprise to see him placed on reserve PUP.

Luck has been back throwing for quite some time, but the Star story on Irsay’s press conference noted that Luck has mentioned the mental hurdle he’ll have to overcome as part of his recovery, and Irsay has intimated that as well on more than one occasion, including Thursday night.

During the game broadcast, Irsay was asked how long it would take for Luck to become Luck again and Irsay replied, “It’s a great question, because it’s been said before by one of the greatest athletes and competitors who’ve played any sport – the quote was this: ‘These games, all games, are played on a four-inch field between your ears.’ That’s where it’s at. You have to be able to deal with this, not only physically, but mentally. I have no doubt that Andrew Luck, the person we know that he is, he’s going to come through this thing – and he and I have had long talks about it – not just as good as he was, but a better quarterback. When is the question. That timetable is gonna be more on, really, the football Gods and Andrew’s gut feeling on how he’s feeling.”

Stephen Holder, a Colts beat writer for the Star, speculated Friday morning on Twitter that Luck may not yet have regained confidence in his shoulder, and that it wouldn’t be surprising if he hadn’t just yet.