By MICHAEL MAROT, AP Sports Writer
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Andrew Luck pulled on that familiar red No. 12 jersey, trotted onto the practice field and got back into his normal Wednesday routine.
A little stretching, a little footwork, even a little throwing.
It’s about time.
After missing all of the Indianapolis Colts’ offseason workouts, all of training camp, all of the preseason and Indy’s first four regular-season games, the Colts’ quarterback made his long-awaited appearance on the practice field.
“I think we’ve had one (plan) for a long time, so this is just the next progression,” coach Chuck Pagano told reporters before the workout. “Doctors and trainers will let us know (how he’s doing), Andrew will let us know how he’s progressing.”
Yes, Luck’s work will still be limited.
On his first day back, Luck stretched with teammates, participated in some of the quarterback drills and threw some passes at less than full velocity. He’s expected to do more rehab work Thursday before getting back on the practice field Friday.
Luck has already been ruled out of Sunday’s game against winless San Francisco.
“There’s a pitch count and we’ve got it scripted exactly how many routes he’ll throw, inside the number throws, outside the numbers, deep down the field throws, all that stuff,” Pagano said. “So we’ll evaluate every one of them.”
Eventually, Luck is expected to work his way back into football shape on the scout team.
Still, it is progress.
Since having surgery to repair a partially torn labrum in his throwing shoulder in January, Luck hadn’t participated in any team drills or thrown a pass in front of anyone.
But early last week, Pagano indicated Luck was getting closer to a return when he said there was “a chance” Luck could practice then. Instead, the doctors didn’t give him the OK.
The excitement started to build again Monday when general manager Chris Ballard told the team’s local radio show that there was a plan for Luck to take snaps this week.
So when Luck was given the all-clear, teammates sounded almost as excited as the fans to see Luck back on the field.
“He’s one of the reasons I came here,” running back Frank Gore said. “To have him back in uniform, throwing the ball around, that’s a good thing. That’s our leader, man I respect him a whole lot.”
Without the three-time Pro Bowler, the Colts (1-3) have struggled.
Backup Scott Tolzien was benched after throwing two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns in a season-opening loss to the Rams.
New starter Jacoby Brissett had an interception and a fumble returned for touchdowns Sunday night in Seattle, and his interception on the first play of overtime also set up Arizona’s winning field goal in Week 2.
But all along general manager Chris Ballard has stuck to the plan — not rushing Luck back.
He opened training camp on the physically unable to perform list and wasn’t activated until Sept. 2, the same day the Colts acquired Brissett in a trade from New England.
Now after months of speculation about Luck’s return to practice, everyone wants to know when Luck will be ready to play?
“No,” Pagano said when asked about the timetable. “You guys want to talk about San Fran, I’ll be happy to answer your questions.”
The top pick in the 2012 draft started the first 55 games of his career, including the playoffs, and went to the Pro Bowl in each of his first three seasons.
He hurt the shoulder in a September 2015 come-from-behind victory at Tennessee and wound up missing nine games that season — the last seven because of a lacerated kidney.
Indy tried to keep Luck healthy in 2016 by giving him extra days off during the week, and he responded with the best statistical season of his career. He completed 63.5 percent of his passes, threw for 4,240 yards with 31 TDs and 13 interceptions while missing one game with a concussion.
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