KEY WEDNESDAY MEDIA UPDATES
***Andrew Luck needed a steroid injection to address inflammation in his shoulder this week. Though Luck's rehab and recovery have progressed more slowly than hoped, this is the first known setback in the process. But this isn't a new issue. Luck didn't wake up on Wednesday, report new soreness, and have a cortisone injection on the same day. This issue has been present for days, and possibly weeks.
It's a significant setback for his chances of playing this season. He was arguably 2-3 weeks from playing before today's news. He'll now need at least one week, and likely two weeks, of rest while the medical staff re-evaluates his progress after the injection. He'll then step back to where he was two weeks ago with a slow progression of return to practice. Do the math and Luck's earliest possible return could be six weeks from now. And that's if he progresses smoothly from today's treatment.
Realistically, I think Luck is a longshot to return in 2017. For months, the Colts have refused to put a timetable on Luck's recovery. I find it odd that Chris Ballard continued to say Luck has no timetable for return -- but told reporters definitively that injured reserve was not a consideration. All involved have been very cautious through this process. I see no reason to rush by a week or two at the end of the season. If Luck's recovery progresses perfectly from this point and if the Colts remain in contention and if Jacoby Brissett has an unexpected hiccup along the way -- we could see Luck after Week 14. More likely, the team decides to continue the strengthening program during the offseason.
There are two other important questions still unanswered here. Why does Luck have inflammation in the shoulder joint? What's the likelihood Luck will return to his pre-injury form in 2018? Those questions are outside the scope of today's feature. I'll address them in depth in next Monday's injury rounds feature. The short version is this: While there's still a chance Luck can return to form, there is reason for concern that this is more than routine post-operative soreness and Luck isn't guaranteed a full recovery.
***Jameis Winston is recovering from last week's AC sprain and has not yet been cleared to throw. Winston was allowed to dress in pads on Wednesday, however, and run through the motions of his position. He took pass drops and simulated handoffs. It's reassuring Winston was on the field rather than in the training room and there is confidence he'll be cleared to throw by the end of the week. However, until that happens, he should be considered questionable. In order to play, he'll have to prove a full and free throwing motion to ensure he's not putting himself at risk of a compensatory injury or inflammation.