Andrew Luck

AFC South Rumors: Texans, Colts, Lee, Titans

Drafted to be the Texans‘ hopeful left tackle of the future, Tytus Howard has since been relocated to left guard (with Matt Kalil winning the left-edge job) and has now broken a finger. The rookie blocker suffered the break in Houston’s preseason game against Detroit on Saturday night, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweets. Coming from a Division I-FCS program, and tasked with learning one of the most difficult positions at which to acclimate in the NFL, Howard needs all the reps he can get early on in his career. But this malady is not expected to keep him out of the Texans’ Week 1 game against the Saints, Wilson adds. Howard is in line to be the team’s starting left guard. This injury, in theory, could force the team to adjust those plans.

Here is the latest from the AFC South, shifting to perhaps the division’s most important player:

  • Frank Reich does not want to wait much longer on Andrew Luck‘s recovery. The second-year Colts coach wants to name his Week 1 starter shortly after the team’s third preseason game, and while Luck doing pregame drills before Indianapolis’ second August contest was a positive development, this saga may not wrap up in a week. It’s been the side-to-side movements that have bothered Luck’s ankle and calf injuries most, Mike Wells of ESPN.com notes. But Luck not only did some lateral-movement work before Saturday’s game, Wells adds the 29-year-old passer has done workouts like that in private in recent days. The Colts, who will re-evaluate Luck midweek, are cautiously optimistic he will be available for Week 1.
  • Another AFC South talent is uncertain for Week 1, but Marqise Lee returned to Jaguars practice this week. This obviously increases the sixth-year wideout’s chances for being available come September. Doug Marrone expressed doubt about this recently, but Lee — sidelined throughout 2018 due to ACL damage — returned to work Saturday.
  • The Colts‘ injury situation at receiver has helped one of their incumbents. Once thought to be a bubble player, Chester Rogers is headed back to Indy’s 53-man roster. The former Ryan Grigson-era draft choice is the Colts’ top return man, Reich said (via the Indianapolis Star’s Joel Erickson, on Twitter). Parris Campbell remains sidelined because of a hamstring injury, Erickson tweets.
  • Indianapolis’ revamped receiving corps will not include Reece Fountain. Reich confirmed the 2018 fifth-rounder underwent ankle surgery Friday and will miss the season (Twitter links via CBS4’s Mike Chappell).
  • The Titans are still deciding on their right guard. While veteran utility man Kevin Pamphile would seemingly have the inside track to start opposite Rodger Saffold next month, the team drafted Nate Davis in Round 3 and has 2017 sixth-rounder Corey Levin. Although Pamphile started opposite Saffold on Saturday, each of these players are in the mix. Former Dolphins draftee Jamil Douglas may be in the running as well. Mike Vrabel does not plan to name a starter until after the Titans’ dress-rehearsal preseason game next weekend, Jim Wyatt of TitansOnline.com notes. Douglas has not played in a game since 2016; Levin suited up for all 16 Titan games last season. An injury limited Pamphile to three 2018 contests (two starts).

“Guarded Optimism” Andrew Luck Will Be Available For Week 1

The Colts have “guarded optimism” that Andrew Luck will be ready for Week 1 of the regular season, according to Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

On Wednesday, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com reported Luck’s Week 1 availability was “really in question,” and noted that unless the star quarterback makes a “miraculous recovery,” backup Jacoby Brissett could be under center. However, Garafolo also indicated Indianapolis felt as though it “finally” had a handle on the exact nature of Luck’s injury, which could have led to today’s “optimistic” report.

Luck originally underwent an MRI on his calf in March that revealed a strain, but began to experience ankle trouble in May. Another test Monday revealed Luck could be dealing with some sort of high-ankle issue, though it’s not evident if he’s been diagnosed with a dreaded high-ankle sprain. At the moment, it doesn’t appear Luck is experiencing any Achilles trouble.

Luck won’t play during the preseason, and his absence will give Brissett even more time to prepare for the regular season. Brissett, of course, was the Colts’ full-time starter in 2017 when Luck st out the year with a shoulder injury. In 15 starts, Brissett completed 58.8% of his passes for 3,098 yards, 13 touchdowns, and seven interceptions. Among the 29 quarterbacks with at least 300 attempts that season, Brissett finished 22nd in adjusted net yards per attempt.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Andrew Luck’s Week 1 Availability “Really In Question”

Colts head coach Frank Reich prefers to make a decision on his Week 1 starting quarterback following his club’s third preseason game, and it may not be Andrew Luck who’s under center. Unless Luck makes a “miraculous recovery,” backup Jacoby Brissett us likely to start for Indianapolis in its season opener, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (Twitter link).

Additionally, Garafolo reports the Colts “finally” feel as though they have a handle on the exact nature of Luck’s injury. Rather than just a calf or just an ankle issue, it seems as though Luck is dealing with an ailment that’s been caused by “accumulation over time.” What exactly that means for his recovery is unclear, but Indianapolis is now confident it can help its star quarterback heal.

Luck originally underwent an MRI on his calf in March that revealed a strain, but began to experience ankle trouble in May. Another test Monday revealed Luck could be dealing with some sort of high-ankle issue, though it’s not evident if he’s been diagnosed with a dreaded high-ankle sprain. At the moment, it doesn’t appear Luck is experiencing any Achilles trouble.

Luck won’t play during the preseason, and his absence will give Brissett even more time to prepare for the regular season. Brissett, of course, was the Colts’ full-time starter in 2017 when Luck st out the year with a shoulder injury. In 15 starts, Brissett completed 58.8% of his passes for 3,098 yards, 13 touchdowns, and seven interceptions. Among the 29 quarterbacks with at least 300 attempts that season, Brissett finished 22nd in adjusted net yards per attempt.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Andrew Luck, Colts

Andrew Luck remains sidelined, an issue that has obviously caused some concern for the Colts community due to the quarterback’s recent past. Chris Ballard provided an update on this nagging lower-leg injury, which has persisted for most of the offseason.

Luck initially went in for an MRI on his calf in March, which revealed a strain. But the quarterback began experiencing ankle-area pain by May, Mike Chappell of CBS4 tweets. A test Monday revealed there is an issue in the “high ankle” area, which can be a long-running problem (Twitter link). Over the course of dealing with this calf malady, Luck encountered the ankle trouble, Stephen Holder of The Athletic tweets. Ballard, however, ruled out the prospect his quarterback has an Achilles problem, per the Indianapolis Star’s Joel Erickson (on Twitter).

The Colts are now almost certain to hold Luck out of the preseason slate, Ballard said, adding that the 29-year-old passer will need a certain amount of practice time to be ready for Week 1 (Twitter links). The third-year GM, however, added “This is not 2017,” in terms of the persistent trouble with which Luck is dealing. Luck missed all 16 games that season due to a shoulder injury. He returned to play in all 16 last year, steering the Colts to the playoffs.

No surgery is planned at this point, Ballard added, noting the Colts believe their centerpiece player is progressing (Twitter link). Given that Luck has been held out for so long, his September availability probably should be a concern. The Colts are not ready to go there yet, with Ballard non-committal on Luck’s Week 1 status (per Mike Wells of ESPN.com), but they are certainly looking smart for refusing to trade Jacoby Brissett. The team repeatedly rebuffed such proposals since acquiring the backup from New England.

The Colts open their season with road games against the Chargers and Titans. They begin their Indianapolis slate in Week 3 against the Falcons.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC South Notes: Jaguars, Colts, Luck, Allen

Jaguars rookie linebacker Quincy Williams is expected to miss four-to-six weeks after suffering a slight tear in his meniscus, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Williams, a third-round pick in the 2019 draft, will need to undergo surgery, but given his recovery timeline, he shouldn’t be expected to miss more than a few regular season games. Per Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com, Williams was the “leading candidate” to take over for the retired Telvin Smith as Jacksonville’s weakside linebacker. Williams, the older brother of third overall pick Quinnen Williams, will now likely be replaced by either D.J. Alexander or Ramik Wilson.

Here’s more from the AFC South:

  • Andrew Luck‘s calf strain is still affecting his ability to practice. The Colts quarterback didn’t participate in practice sessions at all this week and will be re-evaluated on Saturday, per Mike Chappell of CBS 4 Indy, who notes Luck has appeared hesitant while throwing. “Just opening up a little bit,’’ Luck said. “It’s like, ‘I feel like something is going to yank, something is going to pull trying to change direction aggressively.’ That is something that you need to do to play football, you know? And I am not there yet.’’ Luck doesn’t believe his calf injury could lead to an Achilles issue.
  • Only one NFL rookie received a contract with no offset language in 2019: Jaguars first-round edge rusher Josh Allen, reports Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. Without offset language, Jacksonville won’t receive a cap credit if Allen is cut midway through his rookie contract and signs elsewhere. If such language were included, the Jaguars would be off the hook for whatever salary Allen was able to earn on the open market.
  • In case you missed it, the Texans gave veteran cornerback Johnathan Joseph a raise.

Injury Notes: Brown, Luck, Gore, Watt, Jones, Lawrence

Here’s the latest on all the injuries to big names as training camps get underway across the league:

  • There was a brief uproar earlier when it was mysteriously announced that Antonio Brown would start camp on the Raiders’ non-football injury list. However, the as of now undisclosed issue that caused Brown to be placed on the NFI was described to Field Yates of ESPN as “very minor” (Twitter link). Further, Jerry McDonald of the Oakland Tribune tweets that the Raiders have known of the injury for two weeks, and that Brown will probably only miss a week of camp time. Despite the initial panic, it doesn’t sound like this is anything you need to monitor going forward.
  • Andrew Luck was sidelined by a calf injury during the Colts’ offseason program, which sparked some concerns about his Achilles. However, Luck told Tom Pelissero of NFL Network today “my Achilles is not at extra risk of anything. It’s fine” (Twitter link). In a separate tweet, Pelissero notes Luck participated in team drills today, and that his limited workload has only been precautionary.
  • Speaking of the NFI, Bills GM Brandon Beane said that running back Frank Gore has been removed from it, per longtime Bills beat reporter Joe Buscaglia (Twitter link). Gore had been dealing with a minor injury, but has passed his physical and is cleared to practice. Gore will be competing for carries in a crowded Buffalo backfield that also features LeSean McCoy and rookie Devin Singletary.
  • J.J. Watt started camp on the Texans’ PUP list, but he’s now been removed and cleared to practice, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). Watt was limited to just eight combined games in 2016 and 2017 due to injuries, but he played a full 16-game slate last year. Watt wasn’t the only Texan to get cleared, as James Palmer of NFL Network tweets that DeAndre Hopkins was also cleared and activated from PUP.
  • Byron Jones, DeMarcus Lawrence, Tyrone Crawford and Noah Brown will start camp on the PUP list for the Cowboys, according to Todd Archer of ESPN.com. Fortunately, Dallas is expecting all of them to be ready for the start of the season. Lawrence had offseason shoulder surgery, Jones had surgery on his hip, and Crawford is also dealing with a hip injury. Last we heard, there had been no progress in extension talks between the team and Jones.

Andrew Luck Suffers Calf Strain

While this has been the smoothest offseason Andrew Luck has gone through in years, the Colts quarterback has run into a slight issue unrelated to his litany of shoulder trouble. Luck is sitting out OTAs because of a calf strain, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets.

Luck suffered this injury earlier this offseason, per Pelissero. The Colts began their latest set of OTAs on Wednesday. They will convene for the final round of OTA workouts next week. It does not sound like their eighth-year passer will participate in those sessions. Indianapolis’ minicamp is scheduled for June 11-13.

Although the 29-year-old passer running into the same injury designation that has kept Kevin Durant out of the past several Warriors playoff games is notable, Pelissero adds Luck would start were a game scheduled for today. So this does not appear to be cause for too much concern, Luck’s recent history of setbacks notwithstanding.

At this point last year, Luck had not yet resumed throwing an NFL-sized football. He returned to Pro Bowl form last season and has reclaimed his spot as one of the league’s best quarterbacks, pointing to the caution the Colts are showing.

The Colts recently signed Chad Kelly and have Jacoby Brissett entering a contract year. Third-year UDFA Phillip Walker is also on Indianapolis’ roster, so the Colts will divvy up reps to Luck’s younger backups for the time being.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Mack, Rams, Rodgers, Luck

We previously heard that the Rams had made a bid on Khalil Mack, but the Raiders rejected the offer because the picks were going to be too low. Tonight, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported (via Twitter) that Los Angeles ultimately offered Oakland a first- and third-round pick.

However, the Rams didn’t see much of a future with Mack, especially after handing Aaron Donald a lucrative $135MM extension. Schefter notes that the team would have turned around and traded the impending free agent (presumably after he inked his franchise tag) this offseason. The team was trying to go “all in” on the upcoming campaign, with the hope that they could pair Mack with Donald, Ndamukong Suh and Michael Brockers.

Instead, Mack was dealt to the Bears, who then signed the pass rusher to a six-year, $141 million deal. The 27-year-old had a big game in his debut with Chicago, collecting three tackles, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, and a pick-six.

Let’s take a look at some more notes from around the NFL…

  • Raiders coach Jon Gruden sat down to discuss the Mack trade with ESPN’s Lisa Salters, noting that the star player “obviously” didn’t want to be in Oakland. “Obviously, Khalil Mack didn’t want to play here,” Gruden said (via Josh Alper of ProFootballTalk.com). “That’s what’s being missed here. He was under contract, Lisa. He was under contract. He never showed up for an OTA, never showed up for a training camp and it was obvious he wasn’t going to show up for the season. Don’t forget that. We have to get ready to play and I want players that want to be here, that want to help us put this thing back in high gear.”
  • Aaron Rodgers sat out three series during last night’s contest before leading the Packers to a comeback victory over the Bears. While the quarterback may have tossed three second-half touchdowns, he’s not a sure-thing for next weekend’s game against the Vikings. Head coach Mike McCarthy didn’t give any indications as to whether the team would start Rodgers or backup DeShone Kizer on Sunday. “We do have some information and no decision has been made,” McCarthy said (via Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com). “We’re still collecting all the information.” NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets that Rodgers is pushing to play, and the team will continue to monitor the swelling in his knee as the week goes on.
  • We learned earlier today that Texans cornerback Kevin Johnson was going to miss several weeks as he recovered from a concussion. Fortunately, it sounds like reinforcement is around the corner, as coach Bill O’Brien told ESPN’s Sarah Barshop that cornerback Kayvon Webster is trending in the right direction as he recovers from an Achilles injury (Twitter links). However, the defensive back won’t be ready for next week, and the team will consider moving safety Kareem Jackson to cornerback as they deal with the injuries.
  • In an interview with Rapoport, Colts quarterback Andrew Luck discussed a “previously secret injury” to his right shoulder that he suffered while snowboarding. The injury occurred after Luck had suffered a labrum tear in 2015, and the quarterback ended up hurting his AC joint in his throwing shoulder during the snowboarding accident. For what it’s worth, Luck is convinced that the indiscretion didn’t do anything to slow his eventual rehab from labrum surgery. “I’ve seen more doctors than I can count on two hands over the past two or three years,” Luck said, “and the consensus — unanimous — is that the AC is not an issue, nor did it have an effect. The labrum is an issue.”

South Rumors: Luck, Bucs, Saints, Texans

The Colts have their franchise centerpiece ready to resume his career after a hiatus so long it had many concerned his NFL days were over. But not everyone’s buying into Andrew Luck being able to pick up where he left off.

Have you watched the guy play? Go back and watch him pre-injury…like 2015. Now watch him today. His throwing motion is completely changed, and he has no deep velocity,” an AFC offensive assistant coach said, via Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller. “His entire game has changed. I bet he’ll be Checkdown Charlie. Like Alex Smith but afraid to get hit.”

An AFC South assistant, per Miller, doubted the Colts’ offensive line can protect Luck. That was an issue for the team when its 28-year-old quarterback was last healthy. Colts scouts and execs are obviously more bullish on Luck being ready to resume his trajectory.

The last time y’all saw Andrew, he threw for 4,200 yards with a (messed) up shoulder and a bad offensive line,” a “high-level” Colts executive told Miller. “Just wait.”

Continuing with some additional Colts news, here’s the latest from the South divisions:

  • Both Anthony Castonzo and Marlon Mack returned to Colts practice this week, per ESPN.com’s Mike Wells and NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (Twitter links). Castonzo injured his hamstring before training camp and re-aggravated it in the first week of August. He missed nearly a month of work but is optimistic he can still play in Week 1, the Indianapolis Star’s Zak Keefer tweets. Mack missed almost a month of work as well because of a hamstring issue. He’s Indianapolis’ projected running back starter, but his status for the opener is also up in the air.
  • Both the Buccaneers and Saints paid premiums to sign certain practice squad players. Tampa Bay went well above the minimum $7.6K-per-week wages to add linebacker Azeem Victor, agreeing to pay him $28K per week, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. The Saints are paying wide receiver Keith Kirkwood that amount as well, per Pelissero. Kirkwood is a rookie UDFA out of Temple who went to Saints camp, while Victor was sixth-round Raiders pick in April.
  • While Luke Kuechly and Shaq Thompson are expected to handle three-down work for the Panthers, David Mayo will start in place of the suspended Thomas Davis, DC Eric Washington said (via Joe Person of The Athletic, on Twitter). Mayo’s a 2015 sixth-round pick who’s started one game in his three previous Panther seasons.
  • The Texans worked out both Charles Sims and Akeem Hunt on Thursday, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle notes (on Twitter). While Sims is a former regular on Buccaneers passing downs, Hunt’s workout went well, Wilson tweets, adding no deal is imminent. The Texans will be without D’Onta Foreman for the first third of the season. Alfred Blue, third-year back Tyler Ervin and recent waiver claim Gregory Howell are on Houston’s roster behind starter Lamar Miller.

AFC Notes: Colts, Luck, Ravens, Jackson, Jets, Webb

During Andrew Luck’s extended time away from the game, both he and the Colts organization always publicly projected confidence that he would return to the field at 100 percent sooner rather than later. But privately, Luck doubted himself and feared he would never play football again he revealed in a recent interview with Zak Keefer of the Indianapolis Star.

It’s a great piece that is well worth a read, with plenty of previously untold insights into Luck’s time away from football, his recovery, and his mental state. The Colts signal caller is healthy for now, ready to lead his team against the Bengals in Week 1. It’s been a long road, but Luck is finally back. It’ll be a treat for all fans of the NFL to get to start seeing Luck on Sundays again.

Here’s more from around the AFC:

  • Lamar Jackson showed the potential to be a dynamic playmaker during the preseason, but he’s a long way from starting. Robert Griffin III will open the season as Joe Flacco’s backup, with Jackson starting the year as the number three according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). Ravens coach John Harbaugh had previously said he planned on using Jackson and Flacco on the field together, so it’s unclear if the Ravens will keep three quarterbacks active on game days.
  • Speaking of the Colts, offensive linemen “Mark Glowinski and Denzelle Good both took paycuts over cutdown weekend” reports Tom Pelissero of NFL Netowrk (Twitter link). The moves created $1.7MM in cap space for the Colts, and the players can make up the money they lost through incentives Pelissero notes.
  • After Davis Webb was stunningly released by the Giants at final cuts, he signed with the Jets‘ practice squad. Ryan Dunleavy of NJ.com detailed Webb’s reaction to his release, he was shocked and hurt, and the moments after. A number of teams made offers to Webb, and there’s a strong possibility Webb will be promoted to the Jets’ 53-man roster in the coming weeks if he does what’s asked of him a source told Dunleavy. It’s a good situation for both sides, and the Jets may have just found their long-term backup for Sam Darnold.