Ever since quarterback Andrew Luck was an 18-year-old freshman at Stanford, he was wildly being regarded as the best quarterback to come out of college since John Elway, who by coincidence also played quarterback at Stanford. Luck’s legendary status and Chuck Norris-like myths grew and grew before he even took an NFL snap. (Of course, Andrew Luck is the only documented case of a human being beating a brick wall in a game of tennis.) The consensus number one quarterback was taken first overall by the Indianapolis Colts in the 2012 draft and immediately lit up the league as a rookie. He threw for over 4,000 yards and 24 touchdowns in his rookie campaign.
Luck was an easy 1.01 rookie pick in 2QB and superflex formats as well as in standard dynasty format which has not been the case for any quarterback since that 2012 draft. Since being drafted, Luck was easily a top five-ten (QB1) fantasy quarterback and arguably a top three dynasty quarterback regardless of league format – up until this past year, that is.
Once the Colts were ousted into the off-season back in the 2016 season, it was reported in January of 2017 that Luck had surgery on his throwing shoulder to repair a torn labrum. Rumors were that he played through this injury for the last two football seasons, which seems extremely odd to me unless it was minor in nature and gradually turned into a larger tear as the games progressed.
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Luck’s surgery was reported as a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder. The shoulder joint is a ball and socket joint that allows us to move our arm in many different motions (front, back, side, and in and outward rotation). The problem with having this much mobility in a joint (five planes of motion) is that it sacrifices the amount of stability that is allowed. With the “ball and socket” type joint of the shoulder, the “socket” portion is shallow, meaning there is not a lot of contact or surface area between the upper arm and shoulder.
Regarding the amount of surface area and contact for the glenohumoral joint, think of a golf ball on a tee. That’s where the labrum comes into play.
The labrum in the shoulder surrounds the glenoid fossa or “socket” and functions to deepen that socket and provide increased stability. Returning to the golf ball analogy, this would be like teeing off of a much larger and broader tee. In such an important position like a quarterback or pitcher, this shoulder structure is extremely important. The labrum, as well as many muscles and tendons, assist with giving the shoulder as much stability as possible while still allowing mobility.
Damage to a throwing athlete is typically called a SLAP tear (Superior labral from anterior to posterior) which involves a tear around the 10 o’clock to 2 o’clock positions of the shoulder. I am guessing Luck endured this type of tear due to the report of him possibly needing additional surgery involving the biceps tendon. The top portion of the labrum had the biceps tendon attached. With such an injury, the athlete will rely more so on other structural muscles to perform the giant task of keeping the shoulder stable and within the joint during throwing motions.
Picture from Healthwise.
Time Frame for Return to Sport
Depending on the type of labral repair and if there is additional soft tissue bone involvement such as biceps or other subacromial debridement, the return is around six months. With an advanced return to throw protocol such as for an NFL quarterback, six-nine months would be expected given a gradual return.
Time Frame for Luck
Recently, it was reported in multiple media outlets that Luck has not yet thrown an NFL-sized football. In months past, other reports stated he had been able to throw weighted balls in rehab sessions. This may just be additional precautions due to rushing back in 2017. Going forward, I would assume that he would not be participating in off-season mini-camps or OTAs, but rather having a gradual throwing program that will culminate sometime near the end of training camp. This would put him on track for week one.
Return to sport statistics have a high percentage of return to respective sport following labral surgery. A multitude of questions come to mind when thinking of the Indianapolis quarterback. Will his throwing speed be reduced? What about a throwing mechanics change? Most likely he is working on incorporating a slightly different throwing motion (hopefully not Tim Tebow-esque) along with utilizing more lower body to assist with power and to help offload the shoulder a bit. A major throwing mechanics change as well as adding throwing on the run to avoid pressure can really change the trajectory of his throws.
Luck has gotten several medical opinions this off-season and hopefully, the world’s brightest and best have guided him in the right direction.
Luck currently has a dynasty ADP of 65 in a traditional startup draft for dynasty – putting him at QB5. This is right ahead of Marcus Mariota and behind Cam Newton. In dynasty 2QB and superflex leagues, he comes in at an ADP of 29. This is all quite a drop from where he was two years ago with a lot of question marks still looming.
ADP history and much more can be found at a player’s DLF player page.
Will he return to his once-dominant self or will he struggle to find the field and start throwing ducks due to rushed throws and an atrocious offensive line?
In my opinion, I think Luck and the Colts’ staff pushed it a little too much during his return to throw protocol. This shouldn’t be a shocker due to his competitive attitude along with a franchise depending on him to sell tickets. The thought of him returning on his white horse and saving the season was lucid in ownership’s minds and I’m sure played a factor into things.
As far as buy or sell goes, if I am a current Luck owner (and trust me, I am), I would tell trade opportunists that he is a strong hold for now until he returns to his former glory (hopefully, maybe).
- Some Luck Needed: An Analysis of Andrew Luck’s Shoulder Injury - April 18, 2018
- Teddy B’s Knees: Breaking Down Teddy Bridgewater’s Injury - April 6, 2018