INDIANAPOLIS — The conversation took a sudden turn back to Andrew Luck's throwing regimen as the Indianapolis Colts opened a three-day mini-camp Tuesday at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.
As has been the case all spring, Luck will miss the week's practices as he continues to heal from a calf strain.
But the 29-year-old quarterback assured reporters he's been keeping his treasured right shoulder active throughout his down time.
“I’ve thrown significantly, sort of off my feet to make sure I don’t aggravate something,” Luck said. “But keep my arm in shape certainly, and there’s a bunch to do in there.”
Just a year ago, Luck was throwing a high school football at mini-camp — the first signs of life from his surgically repaired shoulder prior to a season in which he was named the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year.
So one reporter in the throng couldn't resist asking what type of ball Luck has been throwing.
“A football, pigskin, Wilson, Duke, yes,” he said, smiling before a brief pause. “With Roger Goodell’s signature on it.”
That drew laughter from the group and was yet another sign of the difference in the anxiety level around the team's complex.
Every indication is Luck will be ready to go for the start of training camp in late July. The Colts are simply taking an ultra conservative approach to ensure he gets there in the best possible condition.
It's a tactic that makes even more sense in the wake of Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant re-injuring his lower leg after rushing back to the court for Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Monday night.
Indianapolis head coach Frank Reich has made it clear from the beginning of the spring he doesn't plan to push any player more than absolutely necessary.
For Luck, that's been a lesson hard learned.
“Things can be stubborn sometimes, and I certainly don’t feel as young as I once did,” Luck said. “And I’m certainly also being conservative with things. It’s one of the lessons I learned going through my shoulder. I try to get the most out of myself every day, still get better in a sense.
“I think (in) this building, the ethos is ‘get better every day.’ Circumstances are that I have a calf strain, can’t be out there practicing, but find other ways to get better. So that’s always the goal.”
That largely has taken the form of interaction in team meetings.
Entering his second year in Reich and coordinator Nick Siranni's offense, Luck is more comfortable making his voice heard.
And the coaches welcome the increased input.
“Andrew’s really been able to have even more input into the system this year, into meetings,” Reich said. “Putting his imprint on what we’re doing, now knowing what he likes and what he doesn’t like and why he likes what he likes in our system. I think it’s taken the meetings to a higher level.”
The Colts signed Luke Rhodes to a four-year contract extension Tuesday, matching the length of the deal given to punter Rigoberto Sanchez last week.
Rhodes transitioned from linebacker to long snapper in 2017 and has played all 32 games there over the past two seasons. Last year, he finished with four special teams tackles.
On Monday, the NFL announced reserve offensive tackle Antonio Garcia will be suspended for the first four games of the 2019 season after violating the performance-enhancing drugs policy. Garcia can participate in all preseason activities and will be eligible to return to the active roster Sept. 30.
Indianapolis also placed rookie defensive tackle Jegs Jegede on injured reserve Monday. Defensive tackle Caraun Reid was re-signed to fill the roster spot.