INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Andrew Luck’s tough season took an even bigger hit Tuesday when the Colts announced he would miss two to six weeks with a lacerated kidney and a partially torn abdominal muscle.
Coach Chuck Pagano broke the news on a previously unscheduled conference call with reporters.
Pagano said the injuries should not require surgery and that Luck is expected to make a full recovery, possibly before the end of the regular season.
Without Luck, the Colts (4-5) will turn to 40-year-old Matt Hasselbeck, who went 2-0 when Luck was held out because of an injured right shoulder.
“It is one heck of a blow,” Pagano said. “You don’t want to lose anybody. Our guys will respond, like they always do. We’ve been through a ton already this season and in the past and we’ll get through it.”
Not easily in what has been a challenging season for a team that started with Super Bowl aspirations and played like anything but a contender until knocking off previously unbeaten Denver 27-24 on Sunday.
Pagano said Luck was believed to have been injured on a fourth-quarter scramble just before throwing his second touchdown pass of the game to break a 17-17 tie.
After the game, Pagano said, Luck complained of soreness. When he arrived at the team complex Monday, Luck said he felt worse and team doctors sent him for tests that revealed the injuries.
The six-week timetable could be on the shorter end of the spectrum, too, because the Colts will be cautious about bringing Luck back.
“We’re going to keep listening to the doctors and evaluating his progress on a week-by-week basis,” Pagano said. “We’ve got all the confidence in the world in Matt Hasselbeck and we’re not going to put Andrew back out there until he’s healed and ready to go.”
Players said Monday they thought the victory would give the Colts a jolt of energy coming off a bye week as they head to Atlanta on Nov. 22.
Instead, they’re making another change — at quarterback.
The four-year veteran has taken a beating this season behind a struggling offensive line.
It’s showed. Luck missed the first two games of his career after getting hurt at Tennessee on Sept. 27. When he did return, Luck still didn’t play like previously did.
Then last week, he was listed on the injury report with a bad ankle. He did start, finish and win Sunday’s game — and reverted to his pre-injury form.
In between, there has been speculation about possible fractured ribs and a more serious shoulder injury than the Colts first acknowledged.
But in the AFC South, the league’s worst division, Indy still holds a one-game lead over Houston and has a capable backup to bide time until Luck returns.
Hasselbeck was 48 of 76 with 495 yards, three touchdowns with no interceptions in his two starts earlier this season. Peyton Manning, Charles Woodson and Hasselbeck are the only players left in the league who were selected in the 1998 draft.
The quarterback change comes one week after Pagano fired offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton and replaced him with Rob Chudzinski.
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