Four weeks from the regular season, Andrew Luck still isn't playing and nobody knows when he will be ready

The NFL regular season is just four weeks away, and the Indianapolis Colts say Andrew Luck may or may not be playing.

Luck has been on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list all training camp as he recovers from offseason shoulder surgery.

With training camp and preseason underway, his status has mostly been a mystery as he hasn't been playing or training and hasn't addressed the media.

On Sunday, however, Colts owner Jim Irsay addressed the media and gave an update of sorts about Luck's injury, saying he's throwing — but not all the way — and will be ready for the start of the season — but maybe not Week 1.

"I can't say that unequivocally he'll be ready for the Ram game, but I can say I feel very confident that he'll be ready to start the season," Irsay told reporters (via Gregg Doyel of the Indianapolis Star). "Now that may not be the Ram game, but to start the season, yes."

The statement is a bit confusing, as the Los Angeles Rams are the Colts' Week 1 opponent.

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Andrew Luck through his career
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Andrew Luck through his career
Stanford University quarterback Andrew Luck looks on during pre-game warm-ups before playing in an NCAA college football game against the University of Southern California in Los Angeles October 29, 2011. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)
Stanford Cardinal quarterback Andrew Luck (12) passes against the Oklahoma State Cowboys during the 2012 Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Arizona January 2, 2012. REUTERS/Rick Scuteri (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)
Quarterback Andrew Luck from Stanford University (R) and quarterback Robert Griffin III from Baylor University arrive for the 2012 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall in New York, April 26, 2012. Luck is expected to be the first overall pick of the Indianapolis Colts. REUTERS/Adam Hunger (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)
Quarterback Andrew Luck from Stanford University, holds up a jersey as he stands with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected by the Indianapolis Colts as the number one overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft in New York, April 26, 2012. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck smiles while standing on the sidelines during the first quarter of their NFL football game versus the St. Louis Rams in Indianapolis August 12, 2012. REUTERS/Brent Smith (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) passes through coverage by Pittsburgh Steelers LaMarr Woodley (56) in the first quarter of their pre-season NFL football game in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania August 19, 2012. REUTERS/Jason Cohn (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) calls signals at the offensive line against the Minnesota Vikings during the third quarter of an NFL football game in Indianapolis, Indiana September 16, 2012. REUTERS/Brent Smith (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck passes against the New England Patriots during the first half of their NFL football game in Foxborough, Massachusetts November 18, 2012. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) yells to his teammates on the sidelines prior to the kickoff of an NFL football game against the Houston Texans in Indianapolis, Indiana December 30, 2012. REUTERS/Brent Smith (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck throws a pass against the Baltimore Ravens during the first quarter of their NFL AFC wildcard playoff football game in Baltimore January 6, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)
Jan 4, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) spikes the ball after scoring a touchdown in the second half against the Kansas City Chiefs during the 2013 AFC wild card playoff football game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 24, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck reacts after being tackled in the second half against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Colts 40-11. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 4, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) celebrates on the field after defeating the Kansas City Chiefs 45-44 to win the 2013 AFC wild card playoff football game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 19, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) drops back to pass during the first quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 16, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) shakes hands after the game with New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) at Lucas Oil Stadium. New England defeated Indianapolis 42-20. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 11, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) gestures before a snap against the Denver Broncos during the second quarter in the 2014 AFC Divisional playoff football game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 25, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Team Carter quarterback Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts (12) and Team Carter quarterback Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints (9) warm up before the 2015 Pro Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 8, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) shakes hands with Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) moments after Indianapolis defeated the Broncos , 27-24 at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 27, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) on the sidelines in the second half against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 18, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) looks to pass in the third quarter against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 11, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) walks off the field after the Colts 22-17 loss to the Houston Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JULY 30: Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) watches practice during the Indianapolis Colts training camp on July 30, 2017 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN. (Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
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Irsay added (via ESPN's Mike Wells): "I don't want to act that it is a foregone conclusion that he's not going to be starting out there [against the Rams]. I mean, he could but also could not. We don't see an extended delay, but we're not going to put a timetable on it."

Irsay said that Luck is throwing again, but not all the way because they've put restrictions on how hard he can throw.

"I have and I haven't," Irsay said of seeing Luck throw. "Because like I said, I don't think we've let him throw like he can throw. We just won't, yet. Not until the doctor dictates that it's time for him to start letting it go a little bit more."

According to Wells, Colts GM Chris Ballard offered a similar assessment of the entire situation, saying Luck isn't throwing as hard as he can yet, and they're not entirely sure when he'll be back to his normal self.

"It's a progression where he's not throwing the football as strong as he wants to because we won't let him," Ballard said. "He can throw it a lot stronger than he's throwing it.

"This is our future that's 10, 12, 14 years — who knows? We will not deviate from being disciplined in our process on how the doctors feel and how Andrew feels. He said it best to me. He said, 'Jim, I know I'm going to be an even better quarterback than I've ever been before. I just don't know when.' That could be Sept. 10. It could be Sept. 20."

While it's not unusual for teams to be uncertain of exactly when exactly a player will return from injury and to be cautious, the situation is somewhat concerning. Nearly nine months since surgery, Luck isn't throwing as hard as he can, and he hasn't gone through game action since the 2016 season ended.

As the Colts mentioned, they want to protect their investment — in 2016, they gave Luck a five-year, $140 million contract that included $89 million guaranteed. It's smart to be careful, though it's concerning that, according to Irsay, Luck hurt his shoulder in 2015 and didn't get surgery until January 2017 after the injury lingered.

It would also be more reassuring if the Colts had a better idea of when Luck will be able to play. Even if he recovers fully by Week 1, he'll have missed training camp and preseason. There will be rust to shake off, and he won't have any in-game throwing experience on a surgically repaired shoulder.

Luck, when healthy, has looked every bit like a franchise quarterback than can take the Colts from a mediocre outfit to a playoff team. Currently, the question is when and if he'll be healthy to do so.

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