Mike Freeman's 10-Point Stance: The Andrew Luck Guessing Game Begins Again

Mike Freeman@@mikefreemanNFLNFL National Lead WriterAugust 7, 2019

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck speaks during a news conference at the NFL football team's facility, Monday, April 15, 2019, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Darron Cummings/Associated Press

It's time to take a ride on the Andrew Luck injury roller-coaster again, the uneasy truce between Yannick Ngakoue and the Jaguars, and will any of the remaining holdouts end anytime soon? All that and more in this week's 10-Point Stance.

1. The waiting game

Editor's note: After publish, on August 13th, Jim Irsay said on Sirius XM NFL Radio that he feels "very confident that he [Luck] is going to find his way through this thing...and he's doing very well, very excited, he's a married man, baby on the way, and he couldn't be more excited for the season." via The Athletic's Zak Keefer.

This question has been asked before, and we now must ask it again: When will we see Colts quarterback Andrew Luck play?

Luck told NBC Sports' Peter King that he expects to play in the Colts' Week 1 game against the Chargers on Sept. 8.

But the rest of his quote should raise some red flags.

"I certainly believe I will be ready. That's certainly the goal. … At times I do worry about it. It can be frustrating. The arc of an injury, whether it's a big surgical one or something you're rehabbing through. … Maybe I'm not improving as fast as I want and missing things is no fun. It eats at you. But I do know at the end of the day if I'm getting the most out of myself, if I'm being the best I can that day, then that's what I need to do."

The air of uncertainty surrounding Luck is something we've seen before.

He's injured. There is a cloak of secrecy around the injury. He sits. Luck or the Colts say he'll be back soon. He sits more. Before you know it, weeks or months pass.

That doesn't mean the same thing will happen this time around, but some teams around the league are massively skeptical about Luck's health.

Although these teams aren't privy to Luck's medical status, they are convinced that backup Jacoby Brissett will start the opener. Why? Because people in the sport have seen this movie with Luck before, and they aren't buying it.

Luck could practice next week. Hell, he could be practicing again by the time you read this. Maybe he won't take the field for another month. Then he could have a special season like he did last year, and no one will care that he started the season late.

The point is: Everything with Luck and his injuries is mysterious. It's a roller-coaster.

Here we go again.

     

2. A silver lining for the Colts

Michael Conroy/Associated Press

While no one would argue the Colts are better off with Jacoby Brissett than Luck at quarterback, the former might not be so bad in a pinch.

When Brissett played for an injured Luck in 2017, he threw for 3,098 yards and 13 touchdowns in 16 games (15 starts). He also rushed for 260 yards and four touchdowns.  

One NFC East front-office executive called him "extremely underrated."

He speculated the Colts would keep Brissett on their roster as long as possible until it looks like Luck is completely healthy (if there is such a thing) and then trade him. 

If Brissett comes close to approximating what he did in his last bit of relief work, a number of teams will want him, too. After all, it's rare for someone considered a starting-caliber QB to become available.

     

3. Treat the feet

Eric Risberg/Associated Press

Alarm bells went off when ESPN's Paul Gutierrez reported that Raiders star receiver Antonio Brown saw a foot specialist Saturday. However, a Raiders team source told me that they believe everything is fine and Brown seems to have no long-term issues.

So, Raiders fans can stand down from red alert. It looks like Brown is good to go, even if his feet look terrible thanks to a reported case of frostbite from a session in a cryotherapy chamber.

     

4. Yannick Ngakoue and the Jags make up…for now

MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 23:  Yannick Ngakoue #91 of the Jacksonville Jaguars looks on against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on December 23, 2018 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue reported to camp this week after a brief holdout. However, that doesn't mean everything is good between the 2017 Pro Bowler and the team.

Ngakoue is one of the best young defensive players in the league, and the Jaguars want to keep him around for years to come, so a long-term deal would make sense.

But from everything I hear, it may not happen soon.

The Jaguars aren't in a hurry to do a new deal. They're prepared to use the franchise tag on Ngakoue, who is set to become a free agent after the season.

If the Jaguars go that route, Ngakoue will likely hold out again. The franchise tag is the scourge of free agents because it gives the team control and limits salaries while creating all sorts of hard feelings.

This whole thing may just be getting started.

     

5. In the Nick of time

John Raoux/Associated Press

It isn't all ominous clouds for the Jaguars. In fact, some Jacksonville front-office executives and assistant coaches believe the media is vastly underestimating how transformative quarterback Nick Foles could be for the team.

A run to the Super Bowl is not out of the question, those team officials say.

The Jaguars are in a brutal division with the Colts and Texans and would likely have to get past the Patriots at some point in the playoffs, but they have a ton of talent. And Foles might be enough to make them a Super Bowl team.

Not in the future. Now.

     

6. On hold

NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 22:  Trent Williams #71 of the Washington Redskins watches from the sideline during a game against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium on December 22, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

There are three key holdouts left: Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott, Chargers running back Melvin Gordon and Washington offensive lineman Trent Williams. 

The Cowboys will likely reach a deal with Elliott sooner than later. That isn't necessarily the case with Gordon and Williams, however.

The difference is momentum, or a lack of it.

Gordon doesn't have much leverage. And while the acrimony between Williams and Washington has been reported, it may be even worse than thought.

To be blunt, I had no idea it was so bad until I started speaking to people close to the situation. In a word, things are awful.

Now, things can change quickly. Hard feelings get mended, and everyone puts things behind them. But there has to be some level of cooperation to make that happen. And in Williams' case, that doesn't appear likely anytime soon.

     

7. Hot route

Here at 10-Point Centralwhere the party's atwe occasionally like to highlight some of the NFL's more remarkable plays. Like this one from Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen, which I have watched about two dozen times.

Allen stutter-steps, sells an out route and then blasts upfield. This route is remarkable for a number of reasons, but the biggest is how Allen sells it.

This gets a little technical (I know you love technical), but most routes in which a receiver tries to fool the defensive back into thinking he's running an out routebut really is running a deep routeusually don't involve positioning the feet as wide as Allen's are.

Normally, a wide stance slows you down dramatically. But that's the selling point here with Allen and why the defensive back fell for it. It's brilliant.

It also illustrates why Allen is one of the best receivers in the league, even if Madden doesn't think so.

    

8. Brady's future still unknown

Stew Milne/Associated Press

Tom Brady and the Patriots agreed on a two-year extension over the weekend that gave him an extra $8 million, according to multiple reports.

Good for Brady. I know he was struggling financially. Maybe now he can afford a decent meal.

The contract extension shines little light on Brady's future, however, because it will automatically void at the end of the 2019 season. It also prevents the Patriots from using the franchise tag on him.

That means Brady will become a free agent in 2020.

He could also retire after the season. Or maybe he won't retire for another five seasons.

As superhuman as he is, who knows? Either way, he doesn't seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.

    

9. Words to remember

I've seen a lot of Hall of Fame speeches. They are often powerful and moving.

This past week, Kevin Mawae took his place in Canton with the latest memorable moment.

Mawae's speech, in which he thanked his father, may be the most powerful induction speech I've ever seen.

If you missed it, it is worth watching. It will inspire you, and we all need inspiration these days.

    

10. Thanks for the memories 

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 18: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers throws a touchdown pass to teammate Jordy Nelson #87 against the Minnesota Vikings during the game on September 18, 2016 at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings d
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

It was a foregone conclusion, but receiver Jordy Nelson retired as a Packer after signing a one-day contract Tuesday. He last played for the Raiders in 2018.

When looking back at his career, he wasn't just a solid player, but a really good one.

Nelson walks away with 613 career catches (68th all time), 8,587 receiving yards (78th) and 72 receiving touchdowns (39th). Highly underrated as an athlete, the 6'3" Nelson was a difficult cover since he had the size to body defenders and the speed to run past them.

Nelson also was an example of how a quarterback (Aaron Rodgers) can make a receiver, and how a receiver can help even one of the best ever become more productive. The camaraderie between Rodgers and Nelson was palpable and explosive on offense. 

Nelsonand all that he representedwill be missed.

          

Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @mikefreemanNFL.

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