The Indianapolis Colts will only advance as far as Andrew Luck can take them, but the touted quarterback isn’t a lock to return during the 2015 NFL campaign.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen, the Colts are uncertain “when or if Luck will play again this season.”
ESPN’s report is a stark contrast to what Luck told reporters, “unequivocally” answering he will come back before the end of the year, according to Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star.
However, Holder notes Luck still must be cleared to practice, while Zak Keefer of the Star notes the quarterback believes he can’t simply show up and perform after sitting out and not practicing.
Luck: "I'm such a big believer in practice … you can't just sit out for however many weeks and show up expect to be where you want to be."
— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) December 14, 2015
Unfortunately for Indianapolis, the combination of reports puts Luck’s status for the biggest matchup of the season in extreme doubt.
The team’s Week 15 matchup against the Houston Texans likely will decide which franchise wins the AFC South. Both franchises hold 6-7 records with three games remaining.
Although the Colts currently have the head-to-head tiebreaker, a Texans win gives them the edge because Indianapolis lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Even if an injured Matt Hasselbeck or journeyman Charlie Whitehurst provides enough of a spark for the Colts to beat Houston, Indy is still headed for a one-and-done playoff appearance without Luck no matter if the opponent is the Kansas City Chiefs, New York Jets or Pittsburgh Steelers—especially them.
The Colts need Luck to receive clearance to practice before any hopes of a return are realistic. Like it or not, though, they’re not good enough to reach the Super Bowl. Luck ultimately not coming back in 2015 would be disappointing but better for his and Indianapolis’ long-term health.