As Luck’s rehab continues, Colts still searching for answers

Vontae Davis talks trade day. (WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Andrew Luck spent Monday out of sight, still recovering from offseason shoulder surgery.

Cornerback Vontae Davis, running back Frank Gore and receiver T.Y. Hilton dealt with questions about potential trades, and coach Chuck Pagano again found himself explaining what went wrong over the weekend.

Welcome to another week at the Colts’ complex.

“We’re just trying to get him healthy right now,” Pagano said when asked about his star quarterback. “We’re not going to force the issue unless he’s ready. So obviously, he’s not ready yet.”

The Colts (2-6) never established a timetable for Luck’s projected return from a partially torn labrum.

But the longer he sits, the more likely it becomes Luck won’t play at all this season — a possibility that was bolstered by the fact Pagano confirmed his starting quarterback would miss a third consecutive week of practice.

The news comes just 3½ weeks after Luck told reporters he sensed he was “getting close to the finish.”

What happened?

After having surgery in January, Luck missed all of the offseason workouts, all of training camp, the entire preseason and the first eight regular-season games. He didn’t start throwing to teammates till early October and after two weeks of going every other day, Luck complained of soreness in the shoulder.

General manager Chris Ballard told reporters on Oct. 18 that Luck had been “shut down” after receiving a cortisone shot.

Since then, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 draft has not been working out during the open portions of practice. Pagano said he wasn’t sure if Luck might have been throwing out of view.

On Sunday, Fox Sports first reported Luck was seeking another opinion on the shoulder.

“We’re going to exhaust all resources because the best interest is the players and it’s long term and we’ve said that,” Pagano said when asked about the report. “It’s 10 or 12 years for this guy, for any player. So we’re going to make sure he’s all right before we put him out there, or any player.”

Luck didn’t take questions Monday.

Without their starting quarterback, the Colts (2-6) are off to their worst start since 2011 and their playoff hopes are fading fast.

That has prompted many outsiders to openly debating whether it’s worth playing Luck — even if he can come back this season. The Colts visit Houston (3-4) on Sunday then host Pittsburgh (6-2) before their bye week.

Time is running out.

Eight games are left on the schedule and if Luck is cleared to resume throwing, he probably will need at least several weeks of practice to get into game shape.

By then, the Colts could be mathematically eliminated from playoff contention or close to it.

All along the Colts have said they expect Luck to play this season, a notion Pagano reiterated Monday.

“Nothing’s changed,” he said.

If the Colts don’t think they can turn things around this season, they could be active in the trade market as Tuesday afternoon’s deadline looms.

Ballard has made three trades since joining Indianapolis in January and he might be willing to listen if a contender is willing to give up draft picks for a proven veteran.

The most likely targets are Gore and Davis, who both have expiring contracts. There also have been rumors swirling around three-time Pro Bowl receiver T.Y. Hilton.

While there’s no indication anyone is leaving town, the players involved are aware of the possibilities.

“I’ve been traded before, so I know what to expect. It’s a business, you know,” Davis said. “This is where my career blossomed. I had my best years here, so Indianapolis will always be a special place to me.”

Meanwhile, Pagano is trying to help the Colts dig themselves out of a major hole.

An interception return for a touchdown that led to Indy’s loss in Cincinnati has put the Colts 2½ games behind AFC South co-leaders Jacksonville and Tennessee.

Indy has lost three straight for the first time since 2015, and if Luck remains out, the immediate future for Indianapolis could become even bleaker.

“We want the kid healthy,” Pagano said. “Nobody’s more frustrated than him. He wants to be out there battling. So it isn’t fun for anybody, but it is what it is.”

NOTES: Pagano said he would have a better idea later this week if linebacker John Simon (stinger) and cornerback Rashaan Melvin (concussion) would return this week. Both missed the Cincinnati game. … Defensive end Henry Anderson was able to finish the Bengals game despite leaving twice, and Pagano said Anderson is expected to play at Houston.