Andrew Luck’s big secret is finally out. He’s been throwing a football for weeks – and now he’s throwing in public Tomas Tatar Jersey , too.
Nearly 17 months after undergoing surgery on his injured right shoulder, Luck jogged onto the practice field Tuesday wearing a red jersey, strapping on a helmet and picking up a special ball as he started throwing in front of reporters for the first time since October.
No, it wasn’t a regulation NFL ball and the longest pass he attempted was only about a 20-yard lob, but it still was progress.
”It’s a lighter football,” Luck said, referring to the striped football he tossed around. ”It’s sort of a bridge. I’ve thrown a real football, `The Duke,’ whatever you want to call it. I’ve picked it up and I’ve thrown it and it felt great. And honestly, there was a little mental block to doing it and I had to do it sort of by myself.”
Throughout the process, the Colts have been tight-lipped about Luck’s progression.
Just last week, coach Frank Reich acknowledged Luck was ”real close” to throwing.
He even played ”toss” with Luck three weeks ago Morgan Rielly Jersey , the first and only time he has thrown ”The Duke,” the standard NFL ball. Luck then swore him to secrecy, and Reich obliged the team’s biggest star.
”Sorry, I confess. It really was hard for me to say that,” Reich said of the continual denials about Luck throwing a football. ”It really wasn’t a workout. That was how I justified it in my mind.”
The wait for Luck’s expected return from a partially torn labrum, which kept him out all of last season, has been as agonizing for Luck as it has been for Colts’ fans.
Just two weeks after he started throwing in October, the Colts shut down Luck because of what he described as lingering soreness. He changed the description Tuesday, saying the soreness was actually real pain.
Luck spent a couple of weeks seeking second opinions before heading to Europe where he continued working out until late December. He returned to the team complex just before the regular-season finale and presumably had spent the past six months ramping up to start throwing between the end of minicamp and the start of training camp in late July.
Just last week, Reich said Luck was ”real close” to throwing.
Clearly, though, the second round of rehab has gone far better than the first.
”I had pain last year and then I wasn’t being honest to myself about it Patrick Roy Jersey ,” Luck said. ”I was trying to get through pain, per se. There’s none of that right now. My arm feels normal (now). Doing things feels normal.”
Reich said the plan is for Luck to steadily ramp up his throwing so he can throw four times per week at camp to mimic a regular-season schedule. Even preseason appearances could be possible.
Reich and team owner Jim Irsay believe Luck will make his first start in almost 21 months when the Cincinnati Bengals come to town Sept. 9.
”I really think there are not hurdles, it’s just us protecting him,” Irsay said. ”I think we’ll go through the progression of the preseason and he’ll be ready to go against the Bengals.”
Skeptics note all of this has been said before.
Last August, Irsay was still saying he expected Luck to come back during the first month of the season. Instead, Luck never took a snap.
But Luck and the Colts insist this time is different, and not just because Luck is throwing earlier in the process than last season.
”I can just tell you he has looked really good in his sessions. There have been enough sessions that I have seen – with whatever kind of ball it is – it’s looked good,” said Reich, a former NFL quarterback who had similar surgery after his 14-year pro career ended. ”There have been some throws where I would say letting it all out rip.”
Luck was cautious and played it close to the vest with the nearly two dozen throws he made Tuesday.
That’s also part of the plan, and one Luck believes will get his career back on track.
”I just believe I’m on the right path. I believe I’m going to be absolutely – I believe I’m going to be better than I was. I really, really do,” he said. ”I believe I’ll be a better quarterback for this team Carey Price Jersey , a better teammate.”
The San Francisco 49ers got more help for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo on Friday by trading up in the NFL draft to take speedy receiver and record-setting returner Dante Pettis out of Washington with the 44th overall pick.
The Niners traded the 59th and 74th overall picks to the Washington Redskins for the pick used on Pettis and the 142nd overall selection.
San Francisco then targeted defense with its next two picks in the third round, taking BYU linebacker Fred Warner with the 70th overall selection and Southern Mississippi defensive back Tarvarius Moore at 95.
San Francisco paid a premium to move up in the draft but felt Pettis' game-breaking speed made it worth the price.
Pettis caught 63 passes for 761 yards and seven TDs last season for Washington. He has experience playing outside and in the slot and provides another deep threat in coach Kyle Shanahan's offense for Garoppolo to utilize.
"I'm hoping to do a lot of different things," Pettis said. "Whether that's taking a deep post, taking the top off of the defense or getting a little screen and breaking a few tackles, making a big play that way or just moving the chains on third down. There's a lot of different things that I feel I can do that I can translate into the NFL."
Pettis is also extremely sure-handed. He dropped just three of his 64 catchable targets, according to Pro Football Focus, ranking 13th best in the nation last season.
He also is the NCAA record-holder with nine punt returns for touchdowns, including four last season. He has a career average of 14.2 yards per return. San Francisco has gone 111 straight games without a punt return for a touchdown.
Pettis is the son of former major leaguer Gary Pettis and the cousin of former NFL receiver Austin Pettis. Gary Pettis was born and raised in nearby Oakland and is currently the third-base coach for the World Series champion Houston Astros.
"It was awesome growing up," Dante Pettis said. "I've been around professional sports my whole life. I already have the lay of the land. Obviously, football is a little bit different than baseball, but for the most part it's still a professional sport. They all go about their business pretty much the same way. I'm just excited to actually be here now."
Warner started all 13 games last season, leading BYU with 87 tackles Tom Kuhnhackl Jersey , including nine for loss, along with one interception and five pass breakups. He has seven career interceptions, including two returned for touchdowns, as he has excelled in coverage.
"I think that's kind of why they like me so much is my ability to play out in space and cover at a high level," he said. "I'm more than willing and I feel like I'm very capable of being able to cover the tight ends and any slot receivers, because that's what I was asked to do in college football."
Warner is capable of playing the weakside or middle linebacker spot on San Francisco's defense but said the team envisioned him more in the middle. The Niners might need some insurance there with starter Reuben Foster facing three felony counts from a domestic violence case that could impact his availability.
Moore measured 6-foot-2, 190 pounds and ran a 4.32 40-yard dash at his pro day. Moore started one season at Southern Miss, recording 87 tackles, three interceptions and 10 pass breakups last season.
The Niners got the pick used on Moore by trading tackle Trent Brown and a fifth-rounder to New England earlier in the day for the selection.
That deal came a day after the Niners found Brown's replacement when they took Notre Dame tackle Mike McGlinchey with the ninth overall pick.
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