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Not having Andrew Luck at all this season starting to sink in for Colts

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Colts must look to future with Luck's health (0:46)

Steve Young doesn't want Indianapolis to diminish Andrew Luck's role and pleads for the franchise to make the right decision and not rush the quarterback, even if Luck has to sit out for the remainder of the season. (0:46)

INDIANAPOLIS -- It would only be natural for the Colts to wonder whether and hope that quarterback Andrew Luck would play this season. That’s because for the majority of Luck’s first five seasons, he has been the franchise for the Colts, with his incredible ability to cover up the flaws on the roster.

“I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t a thought of mine about when he would be back, especially when it’s the starting quarterback,” said veteran safety Darius Butler, Luck’s teammate for the past six seasons. “You want your best players out there, but it’s also part of the business that you don’t know when guys are coming back. You usually know for most injuries, but certain injuries you don’t know. Concussions, rehabs from surgery, it’s different. You get it on why the organization is being careful with Andrew.”

But as the months, the weeks and the days have passed, the stark reality continues to seep in that Luck won’t be playing this season because his surgically repaired right shoulder isn’t allowing him to. The thought of not having Luck this season became even more evident in recent days, when it was revealed that he’s getting more opinions on why his right shoulder isn’t healing properly.

“You have to be smart,” Indianapolis running back Frank Gore said. “F--- that. Surgery and it’s his throwing arm. You have to be ready. I just think he should be smart and do what’s right for him. If he can go, he’s going to go. I know what he’s done here. I don’t question that. But I think he should be smart, and he’s a young player, great player.”

Colts general manager Chris Ballard, speaking on WFNI-1070 AM in Indianapolis on Monday night, talked like he's realizing he won’t have his franchise quarterback at any point during his first season with the team.

“Andrew’s exhausted every avenue to try to get ready and get back and play, and that was our hope, also,” Ballard said. “So we’ll have more answers, though, as we go forward later this week.”

The latest news surrounding Luck just adds to the past nine-plus months of questions surrounding Luck since it was announced that the quarterback had surgery in January.

Will Luck be throwing by training camp?

Will Luck practice during training camp?

Will Luck be ready for the start of the regular season?

Will Luck be ready by Week 3?

Will Luck be ready by Week 6?

Will Luck even play this season?

“I completely understand [why Luck isn't playing],” Indy left tackle Anthony Castonzo said. “It would be stupid for him to come back before he’s ready. He needs to be 100 percent. If he’s less than 100 percent, he’s not Andrew Luck. Andrew Luck at 100 percent is Andrew Luck. Andrew Luck less than 100 percent is not what makes him.”

In the short term, not having Luck has hurt the Colts (2-6). They're currently on a three-game losing streak, which doesn't appear to have an end in sight because of their tough schedule. But it has never been about being shortsighted with the quarterback. Everything coming from Ballard for the past six months has centered on Luck's longevity.

“He’s the quarterback, he needs his shoulder and it’s one of those things where he has to be right,” Colts cornerback Vontae Davis said. “He can’t just come back and be 50, 75, 80 percent. If he could go out there at 50 percent he would, because he’s tough as nails. But he’s still a young player, and I’m pretty sure the training staff is taking care of him and wanting him to be 100 percent, because it’s more about his future than coming back prematurely if he’s not healthy.”