Colts might have to shrink playbook for QBs if Luck remains out

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Colts finished training camp Thursday with the same quarterback quandary they've had all year.

Andrew Luck is still recovering from shoulder surgery. Scott Tolzien, Phillip Walker and Stephen Morris are still taking all the snaps. And nobody is saying when Luck might be activated from the physically-unable-to-perform list.

If the Colts must continue to rely on mostly unproven quarterbacks, the coaches may have to shrink the playbook.

"We'll make those adjustments if that's the case down the road," offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski said when asked about changing tactics if Luck is not ready for the regular-season opener Sept. 10 against the Los Angeles Rams. "Like we've said before and many times, really, we're focused on us individually improving."

The Colts don't have much choice right now.


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Though general manager Chris Ballard has repeatedly said he wants to improve the competition at each position, he has shown no inclination to bring in a veteran backup as Luck recovers from offseason surgery to repair a partially torn labrum in his right arm.

On Sunday, as Ballard acknowledged that the strength in Luck's throwing arm is returning and the franchise quarterback's long-term prognosis is promising, team owner Jim Irsay insisted Luck will not be rushed back. He just doesn't think it's worth it.

Luck is throwing, team officials have said. But he still hasn't suited up.

With Luck off the depth chart, Tolzien, who is 0-2-1 as an NFL starter, is the top guy; Morris, who spent most of the last two seasons on Indy's practice squad, is No. 2; and Walker, an undrafted rookie from Temple who took the bulk of the snaps against Detroit, is No. 3.

On Sunday, the Indyoffense sputtered in the preseason opener against the Lions. The Colts finished with 230 total yards, 90 coming on the final drive when they scored their only touchdown.

"I've still got a lot of learning to do, I've still got a lot of things to learn from," Walker said after going 13 of 20 for 94 yards. "To be honest with you, in the beginning I was a little nervous. But I adjusted as the game went on."

Walker led the Colts to a second-quarter field goal. Morris led Indy on its only TD drive -- with the score coming as the final gun sounded.

Tolzien was in for only 11 plays and wound up 2 of 5 for 24 yards as coach Chuck Pagano tried to keep Luck's top backup healthy.

"That was a small sample," Pagano said. "I thought he managed things well and he made good decisions for the most part."

Certainly, not all of the blame can be placed on the quarterbacks.

Right guard Joe Haeg, center Ryan Kelly, No. 2 tight end Erik Swoope and receiver Phillip Dorsett all sat out with injuries. Pagano also held out running back Frank Gore. Kelly (foot) and Swoope (knee surgery) won't play Saturday in Dallas.

Pagano has not yet indicated who else could sit out.

But with camp wrapping up, coaches and players left the team complex hoping for a better showing in Dallas.

"I'd like to see us clean up," Chudzinski said. "It's not just knowing what to do, it's the how to do it. So being more efficient in that way, and obviously cutting out some of the penalties and seeing the production show at the end of the day."

NOTE: Pagano said Kelly will have foot surgery soon and will be out indefinitely. Undrafted rookie Deyshawn Bond, who played high school football on Indy's east side, replaced Kelly in the lineup last weekend.