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It’s Looking More and More Like Andrew Luck Will Miss the Entire 2017 NFL Season

The quarterback suffered a setback that will indefinitely keep him from throwing, just as it looked like he was nearing a return to the field

Aaron Doster/USA Today

The NFL’s two biggest on-field problems this season have been bad play from quarterbacks and injured superstars. On Wednesday, both of those problems got worse.

Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, who has yet to play a snap this season, will be shut down for an indefinite amount of time after he experienced soreness in his surgically repaired throwing shoulder.

“He’ll continue to rehab,” Colts general manager Chris Ballard said. “We’re just going to shut down the throwing right now to get this thing calmed back down.”

Luck returned to practice two weeks ago for the first time since he underwent shoulder surgery in January. The Colts have been mum about what exactly is wrong with Luck’s shoulder, but the surgery addressed an injury that has been lingering since 2015. The Colts seemed unprepared for an extended absence from Luck. Colts owner Jim Irsay expressed hope Luck could play in Week 1, and Indianapolis inexplicably failed to acquire a true backup quarterback in the offseason, waiting until eight days before the Colts’ opener to acquire former Patriots third-stringer Jacoby Brissett, and the Colts have limped to a 2-4 record.

Ballard said Luck will not be placed on injured reserve “at this time,” meaning the star passer could still return this year. But that hope is beginning to feel more and more strained.

Before the season, Irsay promised that the team would take the long-term approach with Luck’s recovery.

“I can’t emphasize how much time I’ve spent with Andrew, saying, ‘You have to make this decision in the best interest of the franchise, the fans, your teammates, etc. Not just your competitive juices,’” Irsay said at the time.

The Colts are one game out of the division lead, but also in last place. Luck hasn’t meaningfully practiced since Barack Obama was president. If throwing this year poses any risk to Luck’s health, especially considering his rust and the punishment he takes in the pocket, the smartest thing for the Colts to do is put Luck on injured reserve. That move would preserve their $120 million-plus quarterback while the team hopes for a division title this season but prepares to take over a weak division in 2018.

Luck is another casualty in a 2017 season that lacks star power. Aaron Rodgers, Odell Beckham Jr., and J.J. Watt have all suffered major injuries. The graying quarterback class of Carson Palmer, Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning, and Philip Rivers all look like they’ve lost a step (or six). If Luck misses the entire year, we will lose one of the best quarterbacks in the league for his age-28 season. Just as Luck’s career should be soaring, he’s quickly losing altitude — and that hurts the entire league.