Andrew Luck

Josh McDaniels Prefers Titans To Colts?

Josh McDaniels will be the next head coach of the Colts. Or maybe not. Josh McDaniels (vertical)

The Titans canned Mike Mularkey on Monday morning, opening up speculation that the Titans have their eye on another head coaching candidate. If that preferred candidate is McDaniels, then they could have a match. As Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes (Twitter link), the belief prior to the Colts report was that McDaniels would prefer the Titans to all of the other available coaching jobs. McDaniels is high on Marcus Mariota‘s potential and also has concerns about Andrew Luck‘s health.

McDaniels may have had a verbal agreement with the Colts, but there’s nothing in writing as the Patriots’ season is still ongoing. Until then, there will be speculation surrounding a reunion between McDaniels and former Pats exec Jon Robinson,

Chuck Pagano Out As Colts Head Coach

Following Indianapolis’ 22-13 win over the Texans in the season finale, head coach Chuck Pagano was let go as the team’s head coach, WISH-TV in Indianapolis’ Anthony Calhoun reports (Twitter link). Chuck Pagano

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported late Saturday night that the team was expected to part ways with the coach following Sunday’s performance. The team followed through, firing the head coach less than hour after the final whistle.

Pagano, who was two years into a four-year deal with the team, served as the Colts head coach since 2012 and amassed a record of 53-43 that included three postseason appearances. During his tenure, Pagano ushered the team into a new era after the release of Peyton Manning. With the No. 1 pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, the team tabbed Andrew Luck and pulled off three consecutive 11-5 campaigns with the Stanford product under center. In 2014, the Colts advanced to the AFC Championship game but were defeated by the eventual Super Bowl-champion Patriots, 45-7.

In 2015, Luck missed nine of 16 games and the team skidded to an 8-8 mark. Following another .500 campaign in 2016, Indianapolis parted ways with GM Ryan Grigson but decided to keep Pagano on for another season.

The writing was on the wall early for Pagano in 2017. Luck never got on the field following a lingering shoulder injury and the team posted its worst record since 2011.

Team owner and CEO Jim Irsay issued a statement following the firing, saying:

“Chuck Pagano provided Colts fans with many exciting wins and memories as head coach of the Colts. Throughout his tenure in Indianapolis, he impacted the lives of the players he coached, those who he worked with in the organization and Colts fans across the globe. Chuck’s first season was one of the more inspirational stories in NFL history as he courageously battled and overcame leukemia. As a result, his CHUCKSTRONG Foundation has raised millions for cancer research. We are thankful for Chuck’s contributions to our franchise and community and we wish him, Tina and the entire Pagano family nothing but the best moving forward.”

 

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Andrew Luck Set To Resume Throwing Soon

Andrew Luck spent time in the Netherlands recently for additional rehab on his troublesome throwing shoulder, and the Colts quarterback addressed his status Friday.

Luck plans to resume throwing soon and has a considerably lofty recovery goal. Going into his seventh NFL offseason, Luck does not expect to miss any of it — not OTAs, minicamp or training camp — as he prepares for a return for the 2018 season (Twitter link), one he does not feel is in jeopardy despite the murkiness of his 2017.

The 28-year-old passer also does not expect to undergo another surgery. He noted the only rehab he did in Europe featured soft tissue work with a therapist he’d worked with in the past (Twitter link). None of the exercises performed are illegal in the United States; Luck simply traveled to the Netherlands because that’s where this trainer is stationed.

I feel stronger, more stable, more confident in it. It’s better,” Luck said of his shoulder.

He has not thrown a pass since the Colts shelved him from practice earlier this season prior to placing him on IR, but he’s preparing for another throwing program soon. The quarterback’s strength levels are a self-described issue, and this area will be addressed before said throwing sessions commence.

This remains a drawn-out process that would make it seem like OTAs are an unrealistic conclusion, given what’s transpired over the past year and considering training camp is nearly eight months away.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Will Andrew Luck Require More Surgery?

Even though he has been on IR since November 2, we continue to get regular reports on Andrew Luck‘s status. We learned last week that the Colts’ star QB is “doing fine” with the medical treatments that he is receiving in Europe, and today, Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com offers more insight into Luck’s future.

Andrew Luck

Per Mortensen (Twitter links), Luck will return from Europe soon, and when he does, he will resume a throwing regimen that will ultimately determine whether he needs surgery on his biceps tendon. Mortensen explains that, if Luck feels pain when he starts throwing again, a procedure known as tenodesis will become an option. Medical experts say that tenodesis patients face a three-t0-six month recovery, so the team is hoping to make a decision in that regard by mid-January at the latest.

Luck is optimistic that he will be able to avoid such a procedure, and that his European treatments will resolve the shoulder problems that have been ailing him for some time. But despite similar optimism this year, he was never able to get back on the field, which is obviously cause for concern. After all, not only does Luck represent the team’s best chance to capture a championship in the near future, his massive contract would be pretty difficult to absorb if he cannot get back to full strength.

In addition to the uncertainty surrounding Luck, the Colts are also expected to fire head coach Chuck Pagano after the season. Although the Indianapolis gig is widely regarded as a desirable one, the Luck situation could make top-tier head coaching candidates have second thoughts.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Luck Making Progress In Europe

When asked about the status of quarterback Andrew Luck, Colts head coach Chuck Pagano said he is “doing fine” and is receiving treatment in Europe, the teams reports. Andrew Luck (vertical)

“(He’s) communicating via e-mail and text; making progress,” Pagano said. “I think everybody knows — he’s in Europe somewhere, getting some great treatment.”

Luck has been sidelined all season following surgery to his throwing shoulder in January. The franchise quarterback was hoping to make a return to the field but was shut down and place on injured reserve on Nov. 2.

Though he will not be returning this season, Luck just making progress has to be a good sign for Colts fans who hope to be back in the thick of playoff contention in 2018. With the 2012 No. 1 pick under center, the team has won 43 of 70 games and earned three trips to the postseason.

Luck signed a five-year extension with the team in 2016 that will keep him in Indianapolis through the 2021 season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

South Notes: Koetter, Colts, Jaguars

Preseason playoff projection darlings, the Buccaneers are floundering and reside alone in last place in the NFC South. They are likely going to miss postseason play for the 10th straight year, and second-year coach Dirk Koetter could be on the hot seat. The team’s former OC made an interesting comment about one of the components that could be behind the Bucs’ five-game losing streak.

What happens when a team loses is sometimes (the players) are not confident in the coach, or the scheme, or the other side of the ball or their teammates,’’ Koetter said, via Roy Cummings of Florida Football Insiders. “That’s human nature. That happens in every aspect of life. Do I think there is possibly some of that going on (here)? Yeah, there probably is. The easiest way to fix it is (to) play good team football and get a win.’’

The Bucs will now be playing without Jameis Winston for multiple games and will attempt to snap their skid Sunday without Mike Evans as well.

Here’s the latest from the South divisions in advance of the Week 10 Sunday slate.

  • Andrew Luck is seeking possible non-traditional medical treatments in Europe, but the Colts quarterback’s background in Germany — where he spent much of his childhood — may make him more amenable to these techniques, sports injury expert Will Carroll tweets. The Indianapolis Star’s Stephen Holder also doesn’t view the 28-year-old quarterback’s decision as an alarming development regarding his progress (Twitter link), assessing it as “incremental” in Luck’s rehab process. The goal regarding Luck’s overseas trip is to not only reduce the pain he’s experiencing but to address muscular function as well, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter).
  • Clayton Geathers joined Luck in being sidelined for the Colts’ first nine games, but the third-year safety looks set to return after a scary neck injury soon. Stashed on the PUP list, Geathers has looked “tremendous,” per Chuck Pagano (via Holder, on Twitter). Indianapolis hopes to deploy Geathers coming out of its Week 11 bye. He started in nine games last season but has missed over a year of action due to the neck injury he suffered last season. Geathers underwent surgery in March.
  • The Jaguars aren’t ready to activate Dede Westbrook. The rookie wideout won’t play in Jacksonville’s Week 10 game against the Chargers on Sunday, Mike Kaye of First Coast News tweets. The Jags designated Westbrook to return from IR in late October but have just more than a week to decide if he will play for them this season or spend all year on IR.

QB Rumors: Luck, Browns, Cardinals

Now on IR, Andrew Luck ventured outside the United States for possible medical solutions for his troublesome throwing shoulder. The Colts quarterback trekked to Europe to consider treatment options, Mike Wells and Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com report. Peyton Manning was among the athletes who have traveled to Europe for non-traditional procedures, with Kobe Bryant doing so as well. Wells and Mortensen didn’t yet report any procedure has been done on Luck overseas, but this is an indication the passer may not be satisfied with his options in this country. Luck has consulted with several doctors this season and was given a cortisone shot last month prior to the Colts placing him on IR. The 28-year-old franchise cornerstone has dealt with shoulder pain since September 2015.

The Colts are working under the impression Luck will be ready for the 2018 season, but he’s not a lock to show for OTAs and Mortensen reported recently the team isn’t ignoring the 2018 rookie class of signal-callers. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com recently reported the four doctors with whom Luck has spoken have told him to not throw for two-to-three months. Luck is signed through 2021, but at 10 months removed from shoulder surgery, the former No. 1 pick is off track and without a timetable.

Here’s the latest on various quarterback situations from around the league.

  • Speaking of the 2018 quarterback crop, Terry Pluto of cleveland.com reports the Browns “absolutely” intend to draft a passer in the first round next year. Cleveland could well possess two top-10 picks, but Pluto notes the caveat here is this plan is contingent on this front office being retained after what’s looking like another miserable season. A quarterback selection would be an interesting development since the Browns passed on Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson the past two years. But the team was higher on Jared Goff in 2016, and executive VP Sashi Brown admitted to some degree the team missed on Wentz — whom the franchise’s new regime infamously said was not viewed internally as a potential top-20 quarterback. A recent report indicated the Browns are high on the 2018 quarterback class and didn’t want a player like Watson to impede them in this pursuit.
  • Carson Palmer is not ruling out the possibility of returning for the Cardinals‘ last two regular-season games, but like Aaron Rodgers, the quarterback would need his team to have a reason to bring him off IR. “I could potentially be available the last two weeks of the season,” Palmer said Saturday, via Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com. “Who knows? I don’t know where I’ll be (with rehab) at that point. I don’t know where we will be as a team at that point. I just try to be as ready as I can as quick as I can.” Palmer did not give any indication as to which way he’s leaning regarding retirement, only to say he’s focused on returning from this broken arm. He’s under contract through next season.
  • On the subject of Cardinals quarterbacks, they might have to start a third this season. Drew Stanton suffered a sprained knee in Thursday’s loss to the Seahawks, Mortensen tweets. The Cards would start Blaine Gabbert in the event Stanton can’t go in Week 11 against the Texans. Mortensen adds Matt Barkley will be re-signed in this scenario. Barkley’s worked out for several teams this season since the 49ers cut him. The USC product played for the Cardinals in 2015.

AFC Notes: Luck, Fournette, Watson

Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (video link) says no one is exactly sure what the future holds for Colts QB Andrew Luck, who was recently placed on IR and ruled out for the remainder of the year. Per Rapoport, Luck has met with at least four doctors and has been advised that he should not throw for two to three months, though surgery is not in the cards at this point. Rapoport says all indications are that Luck will be healthy for the start of 2018, but Alex Marvez of Sporting News is not so optimistic. Because of the way the Colts publicly handled the situation, Marvez does not put much stock in reports that Luck will be ready to go by the start of 2018 — especially since he still cannot throw without soreness 10 months after surgery — and he says Indianapolis is facing the possibility of Luck never playing again at a high level and being on the hook for $87 million in salary guaranteed against injury. Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com tweets that Luck will be reevaluated in December, and that the Colts are “not ignoring” the 2018 QB draft class.

On that sobering note, let’s take a look at more rumors from around the AFC:

  • The Colts claim that cornerback Vontae Davis is out for today’s game due to non-injury reasons, but Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk hears that is actually a cover-up for the fact that the Colts have not disclosed Davis’ lingering groin injury in recent weeks. Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star says there is more to Davis’ absence than the team is letting on, but he believes Davis’ absence is due to personal reasons and is not injury-related.
  • Jaguars RB Leonard Fournette was deactivated for today’s game against the Bengals, and Jay Glazer of FOX Sports tweets that the star rookie missed treatment, a workout, and a team photo this week, which led to his benching. Head coach Doug Marrone is clearly trying to change the culture in Jacksonville, though Jags fans have to hope it doesn’t come at the expense of the team’s playoff push.
  • Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets that Texans QB Deshaun Watson is expected to miss eight to nine months as a result of his ACL tear, though the last time he tore his ACL, he missed only five months, so Houston is hopeful for a shorter timeline.
  • Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports says Broncos QB Paxton Lynch is under consideration to start in the team’s Week 10 matchup against New England, but Mike Klis of 9News.com says (via Twitter) that report is inaccurate. Klis reports that Lynch is not yet physically ready and that Brock Osweiler will keep the job if he plays well.
  • As La Canfora writes in a separate piece, there are some Browns coaches who believe GM Sashi Brown intentionally scuttled the team’s near trade for A.J. McCarron, presumably because he believed the cost (a second- and third-round draft choice) was too high. Even if Brown is right about that, his efforts to intentionally sabotage the trade represent a massive breach of protocol and will only intensify the much-discussed rift between the team’s coaching staff and front office. But even if Brown did not act duplicitously, and even if the botched trade was simply due to human error, the fact that the coaching staff thinks Brown intentionally nixed the deal suggests things have gone beyond the point of no return in Cleveland.

Colts Place Andrew Luck On IR

The Colts are placing Andrew Luck on IR and commencing a shutdown of their franchise quarterback, the team announced.

Luck told the team’s website he’s “very optimistic” about his future, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets Luck’s being shut down on the recommendation of several doctors. He adds this is not being viewed as a career-ending injury.

I wish I was better and 100 percent this season, but that’s not the case,” Luck said. “I know I’ll be better from this. I know I’ll be a better quarterback, teammate, person and player from this, and I’m excited for the future.”

Luck had a cortisone injection done in his shoulder to help the pain he began experiencing after resuming workouts, and he hadn’t practiced since. Although Luck’s timetable was murky for most of this season, Chris Ballard said (via Mike Chappell of IndySportsCentral, on Twitter) the team did not attempt to mislead and called this a fluid situation. Ballard said Luck’s soreness did not calm down after the injection, but the rookie GM did not say another surgery was on tap (Twitter links, via Chappell).

However, Ballard won’t put a time frame on when Luck will again resume throwing (Twitter link, via Chappell).

Ballard also said (via Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star, on Twitter) he hasn’t heard from one doctor that this is a career-ending injury. The Colts as of now are planning on Luck being ready for the 2018 season, per Ballard (via Chappell, on Twitter).

We’re going to exhaust all resources because the best interest is the player,” Chuck Pagano said. “It’s long-term, and we said that. It’s for the next 10, 12 years for this guy and for any player. Before we put anybody out there, we’re going to make sure he’s right so we’re going to stick to that process.”

Luck’s injury could have affected Pagano significantly. It’s unlikely he’ll get to coach Luck again. The Colts are 2-6 after consecutive seasons without playoff berths, and given that Ballard did not hire him, the sixth-year Indianapolis coach looms as an obvious Black Monday candidate.

Ballard confirmed the Colts attempted to sign quarterbacks during the summer when it looked like Luck was not going to be ready in time for this season, but the recent GM hire said (Twitter links, via Holder) the team didn’t find anyone it liked and the situation ended up being stabilized once Jacoby Brissett arrived. Ballard did say (via Chappell, on Twitter) he regrets waiting until September to trade for Brissett. Although, it’s uncertain if the Patriots would have pulled the trigger much earlier since he was a candidate to make their roster — one that housed a deeper wideout corps prior to Julian Edelman‘s injury, one that induced the Pats to acquire Phillip Dorsett — during training camp. Brissett is signed through the 2019 season.

The Colts attempted to sign Nate Sudfeld off the Eagles’ practice squad this week, Adam Caplan of ESPN.com tweets, but they worked out four other quarterbacks late last month. The Eagles promoted Sudfeld to their active roster on Wednesday. Rapoport notes (on Twitter) Josh Johnson is likely to be the player signed to fill Luck’s roster spot.

Indianapolis’ brass continued to push back Luck’s timetable after his January surgery, much like the Bill Polian-led regime did with Peyton Manning‘s in 2011, and this will end up being the second time in seven seasons the team will have had to redshirt its franchise quarterback.

Luck, though, is obviously in no danger of being cut after this season. However, this shoulder problem lingered for two years, with Albert Breer of SI.com noting (on Twitter) he played through injury for two years and is paying for it now. Luck missed nine games in 2015 but missed just one last season, and the 2016 absence was because of a concussion. The Colts have not advanced to the playoffs since Luck’s third season.

The Colts will now turn things over to Brissett as Luck’s rehab shifts toward the long-term.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Colts Work Out Four Quarterbacks

Andrew Luck will not practice this week, Chuck Pagano said. This marks three straight weeks the previously progressing passer has been shelved because of the setback he encountered.

And the Colts are operating accordingly, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweets, noting the team is working out Connor Shaw, Matt McGloin, Matt Barkley and Josh Johnson on Tuesday.

Luck will see multiple specialists for further evaluation on his troublesome throwing shoulder, and it’s possible he could redshirt this season. The Colts have Scott Tolzien as a Jacoby Brissett backup but could be looking for a third quarterback in case they end up placing Luck on IR.

McGloin and Barkley have been summoned for workouts together previously this season, and Johnson was previously affiliated with the Colts. This is the veteran’s first known workout since the Giants parted ways with him.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.