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Indianapolis Colts

Is finish line close for an Andrew Luck return?

The end of recovery from January’s shoulder surgery is in sight, according to Colts quarterback Andrew Luck.

That means the resumption of productivity is nearly at hand, which means the Colts may be whole again sooner rather than later.

Luck spoke to the media at his locker, and then threw during warmups with improved zip and distance. That’s the good news.

The bad news?

There isn’t any.

Safety Clayton Geathers is nearly ready to play after recovering from neck surgery, and tight end Jack Doyle might be good to go Monday night in Tennessee after sitting out last Sunday’s game as he perambulated through the NFL’s concussion protocol.

That’s a lot of good news for one day, but the best remains that Luck spoke at his locker like a real football player and then threw a football like a real quarterback.

The comment from Luck that prompts the most optimism came in response to “You guys are really adhering to the plan, right? It seems like there’s been a great effort not to skip any steps.”

Luck said, “I think we’re progressing along the plan nicely, and it would be foolish to start getting close to the finish line and skipping the little things.”

Finish line? Did Luck say finish line?

He did, but that doesn’t mean Luck will be in pads Monday night in Nashville or even the following weekend in Indy against the Jaguars. If the rehab has been an Olympic marathon, maybe Luck has just entered the stadium for the final dash to the finish. At least you would believe that listening to Luck.

Chuck Pagano was not quite so bullish, or at least didn’t allow visions of Luck throwing a 65-yard touchdown pass to T.Y. Hilton prior to Halloween to dance in our heads.

This week, according to Pagano, Luck will “get work today. He’ll get work on Saturday – it’ll be individual. He’ll throw some RVA’s (routes versus air) and then we’ll start to integrate him into some seven-on-seven stuff. The snaps that he’ll take, so we’re crystal clear, will be on the card team – the look team. He’ll get, I don’t know, five, six snaps of seven-on-seven.”

Oof. That detailed plan does not make it sound like Luck will be coming through that door – or out of that tunnel – anytime soon.

Just as the patient process Luck has used to rehab his shoulder must be respected so does our calm approach as we invest hope in his imminent return.

We know that the Colts will fail to look or play like the Colts until Luck is able to go full tilt, and six or seven snaps of seven-on-seven while wearing a red jersey does not evoke images of a quarterback on the precipice of facing a live pass rush. It doesn’t even sound like a guy who is ready to compete in a training camp setting.

So the Colts will play the Tennessee Titans on Monday Night Football without their franchise quarterback, but that might be the case for the Titans as well while Marcus Mariota’s hamstring heals. The next Sunday, the Colts will play against a healthy Blake Bortles, which should scare no one.

Not a bad scenario for a team one game out of first place in a seriously flawed division awaiting the return of a difference maker.

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