INDIANAPOLIS -- Colts offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski is in an all-too-familiar position of not having quarterback Andrew Luck on the practice field.
Luck isn’t taking part in the on-field portion of the team’s offseason workouts because he’s working his way back from shoulder surgery in January.
The Colts don’t have a definite timetable on when Luck will return to the practice field. They just say their goal is to have him ready for their Week 1 game at the Los Angeles Rams.
“Yeah, it’s a challenge,” Chudzinski said. “It’s nothing new. The bottom line is the best thing for Andrew and keeping him healthy and ready to go, and I have no doubts in my mind that he’ll be ready to go once he’s back out on the field. He’s proven that he’s done that before. We can all get better during that time when he’s out, and whenever he’s back, we’ll bring him back into the mix and get ready for the season.”
Chudzinski is telling the truth. Not having Luck is nothing new for him.
Go back to Week 9 of the 2015 season.
Chudzinski had a short week of preparation for the then-undefeated Denver Broncos after being named offensive coordinator in place of the fired Pep Hamilton.
The Colts played arguably their most complete offensive game of that season in beating Peyton Manning and the Broncos 27-24.
But the sputtering Colts offense didn't take off afterward. Luck’s season came to end when he suffered a lacerated kidney on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Luck played 15 of 16 games last season, but the Colts didn’t have a fully healthy Luck. He was routinely listed on the team’s injury report each week and only participated in half of the practices. Luck is a quarterback of routine and he thoroughly enjoys practice time. The Colts still managed to finish 10th in total offense and eighth in points per game despite Luck’s limited practice time last season.
“You have a lot of guys who got experience last year,” Chudzinski said. “That was one of the things that I was most pleased with last year is that you saw growth from a lot of guys -- young guys, rookies, undrafted free agents, guys who have been veterans and had some of their best years. So now it’s a matter of building consistency. Again, going back to the foundation and rebuilding the foundation. It’s good to see the offensive line now. They have a full offseason working together, and so I think we’ll see the benefits from that.”
Quarterback Scott Tolzien is working with the first-team offense in Luck’s absence with Stephen Morris as his backup. What Chudzinski has in his favor is that the rest of the players on offense from last season are participating in the workouts.
“A lot of times you find things out about guys,” Chudzinski said. “Maybe it’s the receiving corps and those guys have to step up their game right now. And that’s what we’re focused on is the guys who are out there practicing and working, them improving their game, building that foundation that we need and to find more playmakers and more guys.”