A different Andrew Luck trying to be optimistic about what lies ahead

INDIANAPOLIS -- Physique-wise, Andrew Luck looked great as he stood behind the podium inside the Indianapolis Colts facility on Friday. But it wasn't about the fitted T-shirt that showed off the added muscle on Luck's 6-foot-4 frame.

Luck, making his first comments to the media in more than two months, was a different Andrew Luck on Friday.

The words coming out of his mouth said so. There were a couple of times when Luck appeared to get emotional with his answers after pausing to collect his thoughts. This was most evident when he was asked about the low point of dealing with his right shoulder, a process that started in Week 3 of 2015.

"There was a time, probably a couple weeks into being away from here, early December, that was pretty difficult for me to sort of see the positive in things," Luck said. "I got through that, and managed to see the positives in things a little more."

That's something you never thought you would hear come from Luck, the same quarterback who gets off the ground and gives opposing pass-rushers credit after delivering a clean shot on him. The same Luck who was running across the field pumping his fist after throwing the game-winning touchdown to Jack Doyle in a meaningless Week 17 game in 2016.

But having to watch his teammates play from across the Atlantic Ocean in the Netherlands after having eight-hour rehabilitation sessions humbled him. He's no longer Superman, the quarterback who can withstand any hit, who can beat the NFL's No. 1-ranked defense with a lacerated kidney in the fourth quarter like he did in Week 9 of the 2015 season. Kryptonite in the form of injuries has finally caught up with Luck, and he realizes it. He will have missed 26 games over the past three seasons after Sunday's season finale against Houston.

That's one of the reasons why Luck spent six weeks in the Netherlands working with a trainer he has history with. He needed to clear his head. When he wasn't rehabbing Luck was cleaning, cooking, hanging out with his girlfriend and learning Dutch.

"I think I realized in my mind that it was necessary for me to sort of get away, because I was allowing myself to get pulled in too many directions and it was hard for me to keep a singular focus on just getting better and getting better and getting better, and I think I allowed myself to become a distraction, which I did not want to be," he said. "I think I just needed to keep it simple and that meant getting away. So I think it's been very productive and it's also nice to be back."

Luck has always been in control. But he no longer has control of things. He talked like an optimistic person on Friday, but the Colts are far from being out of the woods when it comes to his health.

Nobody -- not the Colts, not Luck, not general manager Chris Ballard, not owner Jim Irsay -- will have an idea where things stand with Luck until he starts throwing in early January. And even then, you still can't say for sure that he'll be the Week 1 starter in 2018.

What if Luck starts feeling soreness again during the team's offseason workouts or training camp? How will he respond after taking a hit on his right shoulder?

Those are all questions that nobody has an answer to yet, which is why it would premature to say everything is back to normal with the $140 million quarterback.

"Yeah, I'm not exactly where I want to be; I'm not 100 percent," Luck said. "I'd like to think that if I was 100 percent, I'd be suiting up for a game on Sunday. But the pain has significantly gone down and that's why I feel so optimistic about the process and the plan that's ahead of me."