Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay has not given up hoping he will see Andrew Luck back in the NFL following the star quarterback's shock retirement.

Luck sent shockwaves through the NFL when he announced his retirement on Saturday, following the Colts' 27-17 preseason loss to the Chicago Bears.

The 29-year-old and four-time Pro Bowler cited injuries as a key factor behind his decision to quit American football.

Luck – who suffered a serious shoulder injury in 2017 – was dealing with a lower leg/ankle/bone problem throughout the offseason that limited him to just three practice sessions heading into the campaign.

Asked whether Luck could eventually return, Irsay told reporters: "I don't rule it out because as quickly as this thing descended on us and mysterious as it was, it could leave the same way.

"That's just a fact. It's very hard to measure sometimes our human experience and we all perceive life from our chair. I would say it's possible."

But Irsay is not banking on the slim chance Luck will have a change of heart.

"We know we have to get on and play," Irsay added. "We are focused on having a great season. It's possible but no one knows and he would be the first to say it. Only time will tell."

Luck was a Pro Bowl player in four of his six pro seasons and is fresh off a 2018 NFL Comeback Player of the Year award. He led the Colts to a 10-6 record last season and into the second round of the playoffs.

Colts head coach Frank Reich only had positive things to say about what Luck brought to Indianapolis since being selected first overall in the 2012 NFL Draft.

"Being in that room with him for the last 18 months was just the experience of a lifetime," Reich said. "You know, a true competitor in every sense of the word, a great team-mate and just one of the truly unique players to ever put on an NFL uniform and certainly, to wear that horseshoe proud. So, for the coaching staff in that locker room, just getting a chance to work with this guy every day was incredible."

Now Indianapolis are focused on moving forward with Jacoby Brissett, who threw for 3,098 yards and 13 touchdowns with the Colts when Luck sat out for all of 2017 to recover from a shoulder injury.

"There's a saying in football that everyone knows and everybody lives by, it’s next man up and even though this situation is unique, no one is exempt," Reich said.

The Colts will kick off their 2019 season away to the Los Angeles Chargers on September 8, with Brissett under centre.

When a star quarterback retires, things change.

Andrew Luck announced on Saturday that he is retiring from the NFL following the Indianapolis Colts' 27-17 preseason loss to the Chicago Bears, so just about everything is going to be different in 2019.

OK, that is a bit of a hyperbolic statement, but what is true is Luck's retirement does have a ripple effect on the NFL this upcoming season.

So, what are those effects? We have five for you.

 

Five effects of Luck's retirement on the NFL in 2019

Brissett gets a shot at being a franchise quarterback

Is Jacoby Brissett a franchise quarterback? That is unclear. But one thing is for certain, he is going to get a chance to be one in Indianapolis. There is a reason the Colts would not trade Brissett this offseason even if they were offered high draft picks. Indianapolis like him. Now Brissett is going to have a chance to prove he can lead this team better than he did when he did not have a ton of time to prepare in 2017 and had a bad roster around him. This is Brissett's chance. We will see if he takes advantage.

Texans, Jaguars can breathe easier

The Houston Texans were likely the favourites to win the AFC South coming into 2019, but the Colts were certainly a threat considering Luck would be two years removed from the shoulder surgery which cost him the entire 2017 season. But the Jacksonville Jaguars' addition of Nick Foles at quarterback had to put them in the conversation before, and now that Luck is gone, they have to have the second-best odds, don't they? But either way, the Texans and Jaguars have to feel better about getting wins against the Colts now and they could easily see two more victories on their schedules just with this retirement.

Mahomes' path to a second-straight MVP got easier

While Luck did not finish second in the MVP voting last season, one had to figure he would be firmly in the conversation to start this year and possibly the main competition for Kansas City Chiefs star Patrick Mahomes. Now that competition is gone and Mahomes will likely have to fend off aging quarterbacks like Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger and maybe a younger guy like Carson Wentz or Baker Mayfield. But Luck was going to be far away from his injury and would have likely been even better than he was last year with a more solid team around him. Mahomes might not be happy, but he has to feel good about his MVP chances again.

Browns, Ravens, Steelers will be happy come playoff time

The Colts likely would have earned a wild-card spot this season with Luck at the helm. They still might. But without Luck it will be tougher to get there, and as good as Brissett might be, Luck would probably be a surer thing in a playoff scenario. The Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to be wild-card round competitors and not having to face Luck there will be nice. Again, maybe Brissett will be awesome when he gets there, but we know Luck has been good in the wild-card game, so looking ahead these teams have to be happy.

Patriots' path again gets easier

The New England Patriots have whipped up on the Colts in the playoffs but having Luck at 100 percent with a better defense made Indianapolis a tougher out in the playoffs, especially in year two with Frank Reich at the helm. Now Luck is out, and the playoffs may have completely changed. The Patriots are the favourites to win the AFC because they should be. The Chiefs are great, but until they beat the Patriots in the playoffs the conference goes through them. Now, the path to the Super Bowl looks ever so slightly easier.

Indianapolis Colts star Andrew Luck caught a lot of people off guard when he retired from the NFL on Saturday, but he is not the first player to do that.

In this league, the wear and tear can take a toll on a player, several stars decided to hang up their cleats unexpectedly.

We look at a few over the years we did not see coming.

 

Most surprising retirements in NFL history

Jim Brown, Cleveland Browns, RB, 1966

The original surprise came when Jim Brown, the NFL's MVP in 1965, announced that he was hanging up his cleats two months before the start of the 1966 season. Brown retired as the NFL's all-time leading rusher and was coming off a season where he rushed for 1,544 yards and 17 touchdowns. He stepped away at the peak of his game and moved on to become a movie star and true ambassador for the game.

Overall, Brown won.

Barry Sanders, Detroit Lions, RB, 1999

Along the same line as Brown, Barry Sanders was at the top of his game when he decided it was enough. He rushed for 2,000 yards in 1997 and eclipsed 1,400 in 1998. But after just 10 NFL seasons he decided to step away. He was playing behind an abysmal offensive and was repeatedly being stopped in the backfield.

The league lost a great entertainer that day.

Chris Borland, San Francisco 49ers, LB, 2015

Chris Borland was a pleasant surprise as a rookie with the 49ers and a player who the team thought would be a key part of their defense. But, citing concern over head injuries, he retired in 2015 and left San Francisco scrambling to fix the middle of their defense. Borland tallied more than 100 tackles in his first season and really has not done much since leaving the NFL.

Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions, WR, 2016

The 6-foot-5, 237-pound wide receiver might have been the most gifted pass catcher in NFL history. Calvin Johnson's size suggested he should have been less athletic than he was, but his 4.3-second, 40-yard-dash speed was absolutely impossible to contain. But four years after he nearly hit 2,000 receiving yards, he announced his retirement. Johnson was coming off a 1,214-yard, nine-touchdown season and was still one of, if not the best, receiver in the NFL.

This was a shock to football fans everywhere.

Joe Thomas, Cleveland Browns, OT, 2018

For a man who never missed a start until midway through the 2017 year, it was hard to believe he was done. Joe Thomas made the Pro Bowl in every single year he played before an injury ended his final season and he was still an amazing offensive tackle. But he had had enough football and has since moved over to the media business and has been an instant success.

Andrew Luck said injuries took his enjoyment of NFL away after the Indianapolis Colts quarterback announced his shock retirement.

Colts star Luck confirmed his decision to quit the sport on Saturday following reports of the 29-year-old's imminent announcement emerged on social media.

Luck – a four-time Pro Bowl player – was set to make his retirement official on Sunday, however the former number one pick fronted the media after the Colts' 27-17 preseason loss to the Chicago Bears.

Following a career ravaged by injuries, Luck – who was dealing with a lower leg/ankle/bone problem throughout the offseason that limited him to just three practice sessions heading into the campaign – told reporters: "I'm going to retire, this is not an easy decision. This is the hardest decision of my life. But it is the right decision for me."

Luck – who never won a Super Bowl – was the number one pick in the 2012 NFL draft out of Stanford.

He was named the Pro Football Writers Association's Comeback Player of the Year in 2018 after throwing for 4,593 yards with 39 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. That came one year after he missed the season with a shoulder injury.

The Colts were hoping he would be back for the third preseason game so they could name him the starter, but they were ready to go with backup Jacoby Brissett, who the team acquired from the New England Patriots in 2017 to play in Luck's absence.

"[The injuries have] taken my joy of this game away. I've been stuck in this process. I haven't been able to live the life I want to live. After 2016, I played in pain and was unable to practice, I said I wouldn't go through that again.

"It's sad but I also have a lot of clarity in this. Difficult process. My wife, family, friends, Chris Ballard, Mr. Irsay, Frank Reich have been incredibly supportive. Thankful for them."

Luck threw for 23,671 yards with 171 touchdowns and 83 interceptions in his career. He made the playoffs four times with his longest run going to the 2014 AFC Championship game.

He added: "It was an honour to represent the city of Indianapolis on and off the field. So grateful to have been drafted here. Can't fathom another owner who loves his team as much as Irsay does... This has been an incredible place to make a home and grow. This city will always hold a special place in my heart."

Luck was sensationally booed by Colts fans as he left the field at Lucas Oil Stadium before speaking to reporters.

On the booing, Luck said: "It hurt… it hurt."

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck is sensationally set to retire from the NFL, according to reports.

An ESPN report says Luck, 29, is planning to announce his decision at a news conference on Sunday.

Colts star Luck is "mentally worn down" and is "now checking out", according to the report.

The report also says that Colts owner Jim Irsay has been informed of the four-time Pro Bowler's decision.

Luck – who never won a Super Bowl – was the number one pick in the 2012 NFL draft out of Stanford.

He was named the Pro Football Writers Association's Comeback Player of the Year in 2018 after throwing for 4,593 yards with 39 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. That came one year after he missed the season with a shoulder injury.

Luck was dealing with a lower leg/ankle/bone injury throughout the offseason and has practiced just three times in the lead up to the campaign.

The Colts were hoping he would be back for the third preseason game so they could name him the starter, but they were ready to go with backup Jacoby Brissett, who the team acquired from the New England Patriots in 2017 to play in Luck's absence.

Luck threw for 23,671 yards with 171 touchdowns and 83 interceptions in his career. He made the playoffs four times with his longest run going to the 2014 AFC Championship game.

He was described by several as the best quarterback prospect since John Elway in the 1983 draft and his maturity along with arm strength and athleticism gave the NFL a very unique player who truly was one of the best in his time.

Cam Newton was not on the field this weekend as the Carolina Panthers returned to practice after their third preseason game.

Newton was inside of Bank of America Stadium during Saturday's practice receiving treatment after suffering a sprained foot in Carolina's preseason loss to the New England Patriots on Thursday.

However, Panthers quarterback Newton – who made his first appearance since undergoing shoulder surgery in the offseason – could be back under centre "pretty soon," according to head coach Ron Rivera.

"The doctors feel the more we keep him off of it, the more we keep it elevated, we're expecting it to take care of itself quickly,'' Rivera told reporters.

There is no clear timeline on Newton's return but the team remains optimistic the 2015 MVP will be ready for week one. 

"There really isn't any timetable, but we're going to do everything we can to make sure it's right and ready to roll,'' Rivera said.

"What we're going to do is take it day by day because there is no timetable. So we'll begin to focus in on what we need to as time progresses. There is no timetable.''

Rivera also said there were no plans to bring in a quarterback from outside the organisation for a workout. The Panthers are happy with the work backup Kyle Allen has done while he still has some room for improvement.

"The one thing that has stood out, when we get in some practice situations and watch the things Kyle really knows and handles really well, you feel, 'OK, this is the guy,''' Rivera said. "He hasn't been as steady as we would have liked him in the preseason games.

"His decision-making has been good. He just hasn't delivered a good ball at times, but he is quick on his feet, he's shown some cool under pressure in the past and that's one thing that really weighs in his favour.''

 

The Carolina Panthers are "cautiously optimistic" over the fitness of quarterback Cam Newton, who sustained an injury on Thursday.

Newton left the Panthers' game against the New England Patriots with a foot injury, and underwent further tests on Friday to ascertain the extent of the issue.

The 30-year-old had also undergone an x-ray on Thursday, with those scans coming back clean.

Panthers' general manager Marty Hurney offered a further update on Friday, describing Newton's injury as a "mid-foot sprain".

"Cam Newton has a mid-foot sprain in his left foot, and we are cautiously optimistic he will be ready for week one," Hurney said, as reported by The Athletic.

Even though the Panthers are cautiously optimistic, there has to be concern about how quickly Newton, who was sacked twice by the Patriors, can be back to 100 per cent fitness.

Speculation has mounted over whether the Panthers could make a move for Colin Kaepernick, who has been without a team since opting out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers in 2017.

Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury expects Michael Crabtree to be a major contributor following his arrival.

The Cardinals signed wide receiver Crabtree to a one-year deal, reportedly worth $5.5million on Wednesday.

First-year Cardinals coach Kingsbury discussed the team's decision to sign Crabtree – who swapped the Baltimore Ravens for Arizona – when he met with reporters on Thursday.

"I think he's been a very productive player in this league," Kingsbury said at his news conference. "Very savvy, mentally tough player, plays physical, brings a lot for our young receivers to learn from and be around.

"We're excited about him. ... Super competitive. Still has a real desire to play and play at a high level."

Crabtree, spent last season with the Ravens, catching 54 passes for 607 yards and three touchdowns. He has also played for the San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders during his 10-year career. 

"We like what we've seen on tape," Kingsbury said. "[Cardinals general manager] Steve [Keim] feels really good about it, talking to other coaches and how he's continuing to get better and we think he comes in and provides depth right away. So, we're looking forward to getting him here and getting him out there."

Crabtree will be competing for the second spot on the Cardinals' depth chart behind veteran Larry Fitzgerald.

"I know he'll bring some value to our group," Fitzgerald said.

The Cardinals have two preseason games remaining before they host the Detroit Lions in week one action on September 8.

 

The Green Bay Packers and Oakland Raiders played their preseason matchup on a shortened 80-yard field because of poor conditions at IG Field in Winnipeg.

IG Field typically serves as a Canadian Football League (CFL) venue and when the field's goalposts were moved to accommodate an NFL game, a hole was left in the end zone. 

Team and league representatives examined the hole alongside officials before deciding on the modified conditions for Thursday's game.

They ultimately decided to eliminate kick-offs from the contest. Both teams will start with the ball at the 25-yard line instead.

An NFL spokesman said in a statement: "Tonight's game is being played on a reconfigured field. The field met the mandatory practices for the maintenance of surfaces for NFL games based on an inspection yesterday.

"Concerns arose today surrounding the area where the Blue Bombers' goal posts were previously located. The 10-yard line will function as the goal line at this game. In lieu of kick-offs, the ball will be placed at the 15-yard line."

Some thought star Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers would make his preseason debut against Oakland. 

However, the Packers announced their decision to hold Rodgers and 32 other players out of the contest prior to their start, likely because of the field conditions.

Multiple players have yet to report to their respective teams just two weeks before the NFL regular-season opener, but one could be nearing a resolution.

Meanwhile, another player may not be available for at least a few weeks, and maybe more, after getting into some legal trouble.

 

Three things that matter

Chung indicted on cocaine possession charge

The New England Patriots safety was summoned by a New Hampshire grand jury on the charge, a Class B felony in the state that carries a fine of up to $2,000 and a potential prison term of up to seven years. Even if Patrick Chung is found not guilty of the charge, which stems from June, he will likely face discipline from the NFL for violating the league's personal conduct policy.

"We are aware of the reports regarding Patrick Chung. We will not be commenting while his judicial proceedings take place," a statement from the Patriots read.

Chung was absent from practice Wednesday ahead of Thursday's preseason meeting with the Carolina Panthers after previously wearing a red non-contact jersey throughout training camp as he recovers from offseason shoulder surgery.

He is scheduled to be arraigned August 28, one day before New England wrap up exhibition play against the New York Giants.

Cowboys offer to make Elliott among highest-paid RBs

The question is: will he take it? The contract, rumoured to be worth more than Todd Gurley's but less than Le'Veon Bell's, would reportedly net Ezekiel Elliott between $13.135million and $14.375m per year with the Dallas Cowboys.

Elliott has remained a holdout throughout the preseason over his contract dispute and racked up more than $900,000 in fines for not reporting to training camp. He recently returned to Texas after training in Mexico, but the situation soured this week as Cowboys owner Jerry Jones joked about his absence.

We will see what Elliott's agent has to say about the proposal.

Arizona swap with Philly in rare player-for-player trade

The Arizona Cardinals dealt safety Rudy Ford to the Philadelphia Eagles for defensive tackle Bruce Hector. Ford, a sixth-round pick out of Auburn in the 2017 draft, has played 23 games with Arizona over his first two seasons. Hector signed for Philadelphia as an undrafted free agent in 2018 before earning a spot on the team's practice squad. He played eight games as a rookie last season.

Two things that don't matter

Steelers name Sherman interim WR coach

The move comes in the wake of the unexpected death of former wide receiver coach Darryl Drake earlier this month. Drake, who was 62, was in his second season with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and his passing took a toll on his players.

Sherman has not coached since he retired following the 2015 season, but the 67-year-old brings four decades of coaching experience at both the college and professional level to the table. He even served as offensive coordinator for the Steelers in 1998.

Detroit doubles down on Harrison

The Detroit Lions signed the defensive tackle to a one-year extension worth a reported $11m, which would bring Damon Harrison's guaranteed money to $12 million between 2019-20. 

The All-Pro defender was traded from the Giants to the Lions midway through last season, bringing his total to 17 games played in 2018. He had 31 tackles with New York before adding 50 tackles and 3.5 sacks in 10 games for Detroit.

One video you have to see

Ryan Shazier is getting ready to go back to school next week but found time to give an update on his spinal rehabilitation. He has progressed to box jumps!

Thursday's tweet of the day

Antonio Brown could not help but take a shot at his former fan base after a report claimed HBO's "Hard Knocks" ratings in Pittsburgh were triple the national average.

It is the dog days of summer in the United States which means two things — MLB teams are just trying to get to the playoffs healthy and unnecessary drama is being drummed up in the NFL.

This is the kind of week where there is serious news coming out but said news is hard to take seriously.

Do not know what we mean? Read what is going on this week in US Sports.

 

1. Astros injuries piling up

The Houston Astros have the best team in baseball on paper. They also are competing for the best team in MLB on the injured list. As of right now the New York Yankees undoubtedly hold that title with Luke Voit, Edwin Encarnacion, Giancarlo Stanton, Luis Severino and Dellin Betances all on the shelf, but Houston are doing their best to catch up.

Houston lost Carlos Correa (back), Aaron Sanchez (pectoral) and Ryan Pressly (knee) to the injured list this week. That is while they were also without Gerrit Cole for a start after he sustained a hamstring injury before his scheduled appearance against the Chicago White Sox last week.

Fortunately for the Astros, Cole starts against the Detroit Tigers on Thursday. Unfortunately, Houston are once again dealing with injury woes for 2012 number one pick Correa. The 24-year-old has now spent significant time on the injured list with thumb, back and rib issues over each of the last three years and his back injury completely derailed his 2018 season and is now threatening to do the same in 2019.

This is a concern for Houston not just this year, but in regard to the shortstop's long-term future.

 

2. Elliott, Jones getting in their feelings

Should Ezekiel Elliott be holding out right now? The answer is almost certainly yes. After leading the league in rushing two of his first three years in the NFL while accumulating more attempts than any other back in that span, the Dallas Cowboys picked up his fifth-year option in a means of avoiding paying him in the short term while racking up wear and tear for the long term.

With a running back's average NFL career being about two and a half years, yeah Elliott should want to get paid and he deserves it. But should he be getting offended when Jerry Jones jokes about him? Probably not. But he and his camp were apparently very ticked off when hearing Jones joke about Elliott after Saturday's game, referring to the back as "Zeke who?"

Now, Jones has always had Elliott's back. He fought tooth and nail to help Elliott avoid a suspension for an alleged domestic violence incident two years ago. He loves Elliott. However, he probably could have proved that better than how he reacted to hearing Elliott was annoyed at the joke he made.

"I've earned the right to joke with Zeke," Jones said in a news conference on Tuesday. "Let me be real clear about that. I've earned the right to joke with Zeke."

Has he earned the right? Probably. Should he have shown his outrage in news conference to a reporter asking a legitimate question? Probably not.

 

3. Brown loves the limelight

For anyone watching Hard Knocks with the Oakland Raiders this year, it is easy to see what is going on. Antonio Brown loves attention and he is getting it. From a hot air balloon flight, to frostbitten feet, an obsession with Gatorade and multiple helmet issues, the cameras are constantly trained on Brown and will be until the show ends.

And while all of this is happening, we are getting a great glimpse into the constant drama around Brown. The wide receiver's helmet saga which featured him reportedly threatening to quit if he were not allowed to use his old helmet to general manager Mike Mayock telling reporters Brown is either in or out has been complete stupidity.

Brown is not going to quit over a helmet, but everyone is going to report on it for a couple of reason — one it is Brown, so it is news. And two, people love to watch car accidents, it is why traffic backs up every time a motorist is stuck on the side of the road after a collision.

This is sports in the US during August. Nothing is going on so more is made out of things than should be and Brown has been the absolute beneficiary.

 

4. Corey Kluber suffers a setback

The Cleveland Indians' trade of Trevor Bauer to the Cincinnati Reds at the deadline was made a lot more comfortable with the assumption that the former would be getting ace Corey Kluber back from a broken arm by the end of the season.

Well, that plan has hit a snag as Kluber suffered an oblique injury and has been shut down for two more weeks. While that does not sound so bad, let us tell you this, it is not just a two-week injury.

While he may be shut down for two weeks that just means he cannot throw in that time. So, when he does return, he has to ramp up his throwing again, face live hitters again and get his rhythm back on a mound hopefully in time for the postseason in October.

Kluber may be ready by then but there is a solid chance he could not be.

Le'Veon Bell is not worried about preseason as the New York Jets star eyes week one of the NFL campaign.

Jets head coach Adam Gase announced on Sunday that running back Bell would not make his debut until the team's NFL opener, despite sitting out all of 2018 as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers amid a contract dispute.

Even though Bell has not played in more than a year, the three-time Pro Bowler believes he can return to play at an All-Pro level at the start of the new season.

"I don't think me getting four plays in the preseason is gonna help me in Week 1 for the game," Bell told reporters on Wednesday. "It's gonna be me just getting ready for playing and practice. When the game comes, then I'll be ready."

Bell, 27, signed a four-year, $52.5million deal with New York this offseason. 

"Each and every day I've been getting better, so I think the coaches see it," Bell said. "And they've been putting more reps on me, you know, in practice.

"I try to get a little contact in practice. I think the defensive players do a good job of giving me good contact but not really trying to hurt me or take me to the ground too much."

Bell will be second-year quarterback Sam Darnold's go-to guy this season and looks forward to working with the young signal-caller.

"I hate watching Sam play because I want to be in there with him," Bell said. "I just want to be in there because I know how special he is. ... Just watching him each and every week, he will continue to grow. The ball, it just comes out so crazy. I'm ready to play with him and it'll be fun."

Darnold threw for 2,865 yards, 17 touchdowns and 15 interceptions in his first year as a starter and led the Jets to a 4-12 record.

Meanwhile, Bell has totalled 5,336 yards on the ground and accounted for 42 total touchdowns in five seasons.

The New York Jets will be without Brandon Copeland for the first four games of the 2019 season after the outside linebacker was suspended for violating the NFL's performance-enhancing drugs policy.

Copeland will be allowed to practice and participate in his team's final two preseason games, yet he will not be able to return to the Jets' roster until October 7, after their game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

His absence is a further blow for the franchise – they will be without inside linebacker Avery Williamson for the entire campaign due to torn anterior cruciate ligament.

After the suspension was announced, Copeland revealed on Instagram that he took a supplement that "was contaminated with a banned substance," though stated it was not listed on the label.

"Regardless of the reason, League policy says I am responsible for what is in my body. I've had a roller coaster ride of a career and all of my previous test results have been negative," Copeland wrote in the post.

"This is simply a chapter in my journey that is still being written. And as always, never let the obstacle become bigger than the OPPORTUNITY."

Copeland, who remained with the Jets by signing a one-year deal in free agency, is coming off his best year, having finished with a career-high five sacks.

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