USA TODAY Sports photo of Colts QB Andrew Luck
USA TODAY Sports photo of Colts QB Andrew Luck

Andrew Luck, professional thrower of footballs, tossed one — several, actually — at Colts minicamp practice on Tuesday.

This is big news, of course, because the face of the franchise hadn't thrown a football in practice since last October and hasn't attempted a pass in a game since Jan. 1, 2017, less than three weeks before undergoing right shoulder surgery.

Luck met local media following Tuesday's session to deliver even bigger news, that, unlike last season, he's pain-free while throwing and undoubtedly expects to be on the field when the season begins Sept. 9 vs. the Cincinnati Bengals.

"I had pain last year," said Luck, via the Indianapolis Star. "Then I wasn't being honest to myself about [it]. I was trying to get through pain, per se. There's none of that right now."

When asked whether he'll be behind center in Week 1, Luck said, "Absolutely. No knock on wood. I'll be playing. I believe it in my bones."

Luck on Tuesday threw a high school football, not a regulation NFL pigskin, and attempted roughly 20 passes, mostly to Reggie Wayne, the retired franchise receiving leader, with a maximum distance of 20 yards, according to Keefer.

But Luck confirmed that he's been throwing "The Duke," a regulation-sized NFL ball, behind the scenes with new coach Frank Reich for two weeks now, and "it felt great."

A quick recap of how we arrived here: The Colts initially expected Luck, who has missed 26 of the team's past 48 games because of injuries, back in Week 1 last season from his Jan. 2017 surgery. Then the goal posts started moving, the team acquired Jacoby Brissett in a trade from the New England Patriots last September and Luck was moved from the PUP list to season-ending IR following a setback in early November.

Since the end of last season, Luck sought treatment on his shoulder in the Netherlands, creating questions about a potential rift between him and the Colts. Those came in part because he originally suffered the injury late in the 2015 campaign but played through it before signing a six-year, $140 million contract containing $87 million guaranteed the following offseason. The status of Luck's right shoulder has become pretty much the NFL's greatest mystery — greater, even, than determining a catch or rightful player suspension, it seems.

The Colts hired Reich in January following a 4-12 campaign and their spurning courtesy of Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. They've maintained that there's been a clear plan with Luck from the time of his original injury, even if misleading comments by team brass suggest otherwise.

All of that could become water under the bridge if Luck's big step Tuesday turns into continued progress over the next six weeks leading into training camp, when, as owner Jim Irsay said Tuesday, he'll be fully cleared to resume all practice activities.

For now, Colts fans should celebrate a feat that would be trivial for a healthy quarterback — attempting throws in practice — but seems momentous in light of everything Luck has been through over the past two-and-a-half years.