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INDIANAPOLIS — Colts quarterback Andrew Luck says the thought of having a second surgery on his right shoulder has “sailed.”

Luck, who is continuing his rehabilitation on his surgically repaired right shoulder, did not attend a Town Hall event held by the Colts on Tuesday. However, he did a pre-recorded video interview with Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, who emceed the event, and it was aired for the audience.

“Oh, [surgery] is not an option for me right now,” Luck said. “I feel very, very good about where I am. So that ship has sailed in my mind, which is also a bit of a relief. I’m not going to lie.”

The Colts have undergone almost a complete overhaul in the past 13 months, with a new general manager, new head coach and likely an entirely new coaching staff. But a significant part of their success in the future will center on Luck’s health, which remains a mystery.

Like the franchise, Luck has dealt with a lot of change over the past 13 months. He had surgery on his right shoulder in January 2017. He missed all of the team’s offseason workouts, all of training camp and eventually the entire 2017 season after experiencing soreness that couldn’t be calmed by a cortisone shot once he started practicing in the middle of October. Luck also spent about six weeks in the Netherlands rehabbing his shoulder in late 2017.

New Colts coach Frank Reich said he’s “hopeful” that Luck will be back once the team starts offseason workouts in April.

“It’s been a long journey to this point, and it’ll still be a long journey until hopefully we get what we need to get done in Indianapolis,” Luck said. “The rehab has been hard at times. The one thing I know in my heart is that I am getting better, and I’m feeling great. I’m extremely optimistic. It’s been fun to see myself improve, so really I couldn’t be more excited for this offseason and for our new coach — everything that’s happening — and where the direction of the team is going.”

Luck has spent the past few weeks in Southern California working with throwing experts. He said he has started throwing but didn’t specify what kind of ball he’s throwing.

“Yeah, so I’m in the middle of sort of a little bit of throwing, but strengthening and preparing my shoulder to be able to handle the throw-load that is part of being an NFL quarterback,” Luck said. “So the focus right now is still strengthening all those muscles and making sure that my shoulder can handle it. … And as much as I have to catch myself — as much as I want to grab a ball and throw it a million times – I know I have to build up to be able to handle that point, and right now I’m in that building phase still.”

Luck spent his first three seasons in the NFL taking every significant snap for the Colts. His past three seasons, though, have been full of nothing but injuries. He has missed 26 games over the past three seasons because of shoulder, rib, kidney and concussion injuries. He hasn’t played in a game since Week 17 of the 2016 season.

“It was very difficult to not play last year and to have something that you love to do taken away from you,” he said. “And it makes you sort of turn the proverbial mirror on yourself and look at, you know, ‘Who am I? What am I? What do I truly love to do?’ And one of the many great things, blessings, of what I’ve gone through, one of them is that I truly, I can look at myself and I love football, and I want to play so bad. I love throwing a football. I love my teammates.

“And when that’s taken away from you — I probably didn’t appreciate it, how much joy I got out of that from my first five years in the league, and then to have that taken away from you gives you a perspective, and I think I’ll be a better quarterback and a teammate because of that perspective.”

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TE Josh Hill retires from football less than 2 months after signing with Detroit Lions

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METAIRIE, La. — Tight end Josh Hill officially announced his retirement Thursday, less than two months after joining the Detroit Lions as a free agent.

The Lions signed veteran tight end Darren Fells as a replacement.

Hill, who turns 31 later this month, spent his first eight years with the New Orleans Saints before being released in a wave of salary-cap cuts. He initially planned to follow his former position coach, Dan Campbell, to Detroit before the apparent change of heart.

Hill’s one-year deal with the Lions was scheduled to pay him $1.2 million.

“This game has blessed my family and I with more than we could have ever imagined,” Hill wrote in an Instagram post. “Everything this game has given and taught me makes this decision extremely difficult, but I am looking forward to all of the years I have with my young family, and being able to chase after different dreams.”

Hill joined the Saints as an undrafted rookie from Idaho State in 2013 and quickly earned a place as a versatile blocker, receiver, core special teams player and occasional fullback. The 6-foot-5, 250-pounder finished his career with 116 catches for 1,071 yards and 15 touchdowns in the regular season, plus another 15 catches for 166 yards and a TD in the playoffs.

Saints coach Sean Payton once described Hill as so valuable in so many different areas of the playbook that losing him to an injury early in a game was “like losing your front door.”

“He has been a model of consistency throughout his eight seasons with us,” Payton said in a statement when Hill was released. “He has been reliable, selfless and filled numerous roles for us, oftentimes on the fly and in the middle of games, filling each role at a very high level.”



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Players Association fires back at NFL’s voluntary offseason workout policy following Ja’Wuan James’ injury

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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – The Denver Broncos and tackle Ja’Wuan James have become the focal points in the growing acrimony between the NFL and the NFL Players Association over attendance of players at voluntary offseason workouts.

That relationship grew even more strained on Thursday when the players’ union fired back to its membership in response to a memo from the NFL’s management council to team executives and head coaches earlier this week.

In a wide-ranging email to players, which was read to ESPN, union officials devoted a section to the season-ending Achilles tendon injury James had suffered earlier this week while working out away from the Broncos’ complex.

In the email, union officials said:

“It was gutless to use a player’s serious injury as a scare tactic to get you to come running back to these workouts.

“This memo is another sign of what they think of you and also affirms that they simply want to control you year-round in any and every way that they can.

“We have been in touch with Ja’Wuan James. Despite an open threat of an ‘NFI’ designation, Ja’Wuan was working out to stay in shape under a program recommended to him by his coach.”

James had been specifically named in the league’s memo Tuesday. In that memo, it was outlined under the “Non-Football Injuries” designation that teams like the Broncos would have “no contractual obligation” to pay players like James their salaries if they were injured away from the team facilities.

The memo also outlined why a player’s salary would be paid if the injury had been suffered during a workout at a team’s complex. The memo also mentioned: “Clubs are encouraged to remind players of the significant injury-related protection provided if they choose to work out at the club facility and the risks they undertake in choosing to train at a non-NFL location.”

James has a $10 million salary guarantee for the 2021 season the Broncos would not have to pay, according to the collective bargaining agreement, because he suffered the injury at another site. The union also pointed out in its email Thursday while the NFI designation has been part of the CBA for some time, the league has “never, ever sent such a memo about voluntary workouts.”

The Broncos players were among the first earlier this offseason to issue a statement through the NFLPA that they would boycott the team’s voluntary offseason program. Several players, more than 20 at times, have still worked out at the team’s facility in recent weeks, including several who are returning from injuries.

Broncos coaches have routinely given players specific workout protocols to follow during the offseason, if the players wishes to, if the players are working out away from the facility. James, who opted out of the 2020 season due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic, had also been in the team’s facility at times this offseason.

Days before the draft Broncos general manager George Paton was asked about James’ progress and said: “He’s been here, and he’s been working out. He looks great and the expectation is he starts at right tackle and he plays well.”

James has played 63 snaps over three games combined – all in 2019 – since he signed a four-year, $51 million deal with the Broncos in March of that year. During the 2019 season James suffered a torn meniscus as well as a torn MCL in separate games that season.

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Detroit Lions release former second-round running back Kerryon Johnson

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The Detroit Lions have released running back Kerryon Johnson, the team announced on Thursday.

Detroit drafted the former Auburn standout in the second round in 2018. Johnson became expendable after the team drafted D’Andre Swift No. 35 overall in 2020, signed free-agent running back Jamaal Williams in March and drafted Oregon State’s Jermar Jefferson last week.

Johnson ran for 1,225 yards and eight touchdowns over three seasons. He also has 61 career receptions for 527 yards and three scores.

Last year, he had 181 yards rushing and two scores on 52 carries, and had 19 receptions for 187 yards receiving and a touchdown.

The Lions also added a player in free agency, signing tight end Darren Fells on Wednesday. The move gives the team a veteran at the position it can put on the field with Pro Bowl tight end T.J. Hockenson.

The 35-year-old Fells has 123 career catches with 1,483 yards receiving and 21 touchdowns. The previous two years in Houston, he had a combined 55 catches for 653 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Fells has started 76 games — including 13 with the Lions in 2017 — and played in 102 games with Arizona, Detroit, Cleveland and the Texans. He was a rebounding standout at UC Irvine and played basketball in Argentina, Mexico, Belgium, Finland and France before playing in the NFL.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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