WESTFIELD — Andrew Luck is leading the Indianapolis Colts into the Super Bowl.
Every afternoon for the past three days.
At least in the eyes of head coach Frank Reich.
As Luck continues to rehab a nagging calf strain and sit out the team’s full on-field practices, the 29-year-old quarterback is making the most of walkthroughs.
Reich noted the pace of the indoor practices allows for more snaps than full-team sessions. He and his coaching staff script 60 to 70 plays for each walkthrough, averaging more than one snap per minute.
“It’s game speed until the snap,” Reich said. “So what we mean by that is, we’re in the huddle and you should think you’re in the Super Bowl. We’re playing in the Super Bowl today. At 3:40, we’ve got a Super Bowl game. Andrew’s really good at putting himself in that moment. We want the body language, the tone of his voice in the huddle.
“It’s amazing. There’s science behind this, too, but you can fool your nervous system into thinking that this is real. That’s what we want Andrew, and our whole team, to do. This is live reps, man. It’s not physically live, but in every other way, it’s live. You can get so much done there. Andrew’s doing a phenomenal job.”
Luck’s return to full-team drills still is an open question.
In addition to walkthroughs, the quarterback again is working with throwing guru Tom House — the man who helped him end his three-year shoulder saga last season. Reich views tape of those sessions and likes what he’s seeing.
Luck likely will be re-evaluated Friday as the Colts assess his return to practice.
“We’ll just continue to take that day by day,” Reich said. “But (walkthroughs are) another sign to us that we feel like there’s more than one way to get prepared.”
Third-string quarterback Phillip Walker led a touchdown drive to end Thursday’s practice in a two-minute drill.
The Colts faced a third down at the 10-yard line on the final play when Walker threw to a spot in the end zone, and wide receiver Reece Fountain made a leaping catch.
“It was nice,” Reich said. “We’re doing a two-minute drill in a situation where we’re ready to take a field goal if we have to. But you get a one-on-one matchup, Reece has a great route. That kind of big-play making is what we need.”
PLAY OF THE DAY
T.Y. Hilton had an outstanding series early in team drills.
The veteran wide receiver’s first big play gained about 30 yards on a pass from Jacoby Brissett. The ball was slightly underthrown, and a defender cut off Hilton’s path back to the pass. He still made the catch, stetching his hands toward the ground like a baseball shortstop and securing the ball with his fingertips.
An earlier play stood out for Reich.
“He’s just unbelievable,” he said. “He made two catches today. The one, I’m standing right behind the quarterback, the ball’s thrown, it’s a deep-over route — I’ve seen a million of these — the ball comes out of his hand, and in my brain I’m saying, ‘Yeah, there’s no way T.Y.’s getting to that.’ I mean, literally, I’m saying there’s no way. And next thing I know, I look up, he makes the play. So that’s the value he brings.”
Defensive end Kemoko Turay returned after missing four practices with a shoulder injury. Rookie wide receiver Parris Campbell and rookie defensive end Ben Banogu remained out for the third straight practice with undisclosed ailments.
Tight end Jack Doyle also was sidelined for a second straight day with an oblique injury.
“Jack’s a pro, just have a lot of confidence in him,” Reich said. “We don’t want to rush anything. Mentally, we all know where Jack is. So it’s just a question of physically getting him right. I said to him the other day, ‘Hey, let’s use this as a positive.’ It just gives him more time. More time to get his strength back, more time to recover. He’ll be ready to go.”