Colts' Andrew Luck completes comeback season with playoffs, award

The point at which many believed Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck was fully back after missing the 2017 season due to a right shoulder injury is up for debate.

Some say Luck was back right at the start of the season. Others point to when he attempted 121 passes over a four-day stretch. Some believe it was when the Colts took off and won nine of their final 10 games of the regular season.

If there’s one thing everyone can agree on, it’s that Luck’s redemption season was the best in the NFL. That’s why he was named the league’s Comeback Player of the Year at the NFL Honors event Saturday in Atlanta.

Luck thrived in first-year head coach Frank Reich’s offense, which put an emphasis on quicker throws. Luck set career highs in completions (430), completion percentage (67.3) and attempts (639) while throwing for the second-most touchdowns (39) in the NFL (behind only Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes) and being sacked a career-low 18 times during his Pro Bowl season. Luck also threw at least three touchdown passes in eight straight games, which is the second-longest streak in NFL history.

“I didn’t miss any practices during the season,” Luck said. “I didn’t miss any games. I needed to prove that to myself that I could be durable. Part of playing this position is availability -- that ability.”

The award comes about a year after Luck questioned his ability to continue his NFL career.

The former No. 1 overall pick suffered a shoulder injury in Week 3 of the 2015 season. Luck played through the shoulder problems in 2015 and 2016 before having surgery on it in January 2017. He didn’t play a snap in 2017, traveled across the ocean to the Netherlands to receive treatment and didn’t even start throwing a regulation football until June 2018.

The quarterback didn’t waste any time quieting doubters this season; he attempted 53 passes and threw for 319 yards in the Colts' Week 1 game against Cincinnati.

“I knew it was going to take some time,” general manager Chris Ballard said during his season-ending news conference on Jan. 14. “Andrew had to play the game, he was in a new offense with new players. He had to play the game, but I thought the second half of the Houston game (464 passing yards in Week 4), there were some wow moments with Andrew. That’s when – you saw little flashes of it before that, but the Houston game, that second half when he brought us back, that’s where I thought you really saw him come back.

“I have a great deal of respect of where he has been and where he is now and we have not, I said this, we have not seen the best of this kid yet. Unequivocally, we are fortunate to have him as our starting quarterback, this city is and this team is fortunate to have him and I don’t think we have seen the best of him.”