"My gut and my feeling tells me that I do not need another surgery," Luck said Friday. "I think I need to work more and to stay on this straight and narrow, if you will. I don't want to sound like throwing is the test. I'm doing well, and I will continue to do well. That's how I feel today."
Luck, who had right shoulder surgery last January, went to Europe after the Colts gave him a cortisone shot, shut him down from practicing and eventually placed him on injured reserve on Nov. 2 because of continued soreness in his shoulder. The quarterback said he did not receive any injections in his shoulder while in the Netherlands. It was strictly "rehab, strength training, soft-tissue work" with a trainer whom he has worked with in the past and one the Colts approve of.
"I was experiencing pain still," Luck said. "And that scared me, because I sort of remember the previous year and why I had surgery in the first place, because I was feeling pain while doing things. That was something that hit my mind and precipitated all these events happening."
Luck said his shoulder feels "stronger, more stable," and that he is more confident in it now than when he returned to practice in September. The test for Luck, though, will be when he resumes throwing in early January. (He hasn't thrown a ball since he was shut down in late October.) It's then that Luck and the Colts will have a better idea if the franchise quarterback will need to have another surgery, which could set him back as long as another six months.
Luck expects to be able to take part in the team's offseason workouts barring any kind of setback.
"I'm very optimistic," he said. "I feel really good today. I do not think I need another surgery. I believe in the process I'm in right now. I've got great help and hope to continue to get better. I plan on being ready for everything -- everything official, NFL offseason, schedule. ... I plan on being ready."
Luck looked and talked like a person who's mentally drained from the entire injury process. He had several long pauses between answers and looked down often during the 15-minute news conference.
Luck originally injured his shoulder in Week 3 of the 2015 season. He played in four more games that season before sustaining a season-ending lacerated kidney in Week 9. Luck reinjured the shoulder while attempting to make a tackle after throwing an interception against Denver in Week 2 of the 2016 season. He played in 15 of 16 games that year; the lone game he missed was because of a concussion. Luck was also limited in practice at least one day each week last season.
Luck finally had surgery on the shoulder last January. Owner Jim Irsay tweeted on Jan. 19 that his quarterback would be ready for the start of this season. But Luck missed all of the team's offseason workouts, all of training camp and eventually all of this season.
By the end of this season, Luck, who hadn't missed a snap during his first three seasons, will have missed 26 games over the past three years.
"I've never entertained the thoughts that this is [career-ending]," Luck said. "Sure, it's crossed my mind. But I don't think that at all, at all."
"I'm very optimistic. I feel really good today. I do not think I need another surgery. I believe in the process I'm in right now. I've got great help and hope to continue to get better. I plan on being ready for everything -- everything official, NFL offseason, schedule. ... I plan on being ready." Colts quarterback Andrew Luck
The ongoing saga surrounding Luck's right shoulder had Irsay saying on Aug. 13 that "all sports is played on a 4-inch field between your ears. It's really important we continue to help Andrew emotionally, mentally get his confidence and his endorsement, deep down his rubber stamp [in] his heart of hearts, because in the end that carries the biggest weight."
Luck admitted it has been draining.
"I think there are mental things that anybody who's injured has to go through with any surgery -- not just football, but in any part of life," he said. "That's something you have to work through, and the frustration of not being out there is part of it. And the understanding -- I think naturally I'm somewhat of an impatient person, and understanding that patience truly is a virtue and it is necessary in situations, has been important for me to understand."