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Jim Irsay: Colts are being overlooked despite healthy Andrew Luck

NFL: Indianapolis Colts-Press Conference

Jim Irsay is one of the most outspoken owners in the NFL, so it’s no surprise he’s speaking out against the notion that the Indianapolis Colts should be taking second- or even third-billing in the steadily improving AFC South.

And Irsay’s trump card? A healthy Andrew Luck.

The Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars made significant roster upgrades this past offseason, which has prompted many pundits to place the two teams atop the AFC South. But Irsay believes that those experts have forgotten the talents of Luck, who played in only nine games last season due to myriad injuries.

Irsay’s recent comments suggest he believes a healthy Luck can restore the Colts to one of the elite teams not only in the division, but in the entire conference.

“Andrew [Luck] is feeling really healthy,” he said, via ESPN’s Mike Wells. “He feels great and that makes me feel great because, yeah, we’re under the radar, but we have Andrew Luck.”

The Colts had issues on and off the field last season when the team finished 8-8 and missed the playoffs. Irsay acknowledged the uncertain future head coach Chuck Pagano had with the organization played a part. There were also rumors of infighting between Pagano and general manager Ryan Grigson.

But to ask Irsay, all those issues were secondary to the loss of Luck as it relates to the disappointing season.

“Really, it was more of a year where our franchise quarterback got hurt,” Irsay said. “If that doesn’t happen, who knows what kind of year we would have had?”

Irsay says Luck, fresh off signing a six-year extension worth $140 million, with $87 million guaranteed, that makes him the highest paid player in the league, can reclaim his spot as one of top QBs in the NFL. Irsay adds the onus is on the Colts and the coaching staff to put Luck in the position to be a viable MVP candidate.

And if the Colts can do that? The sky’s the limit for Luck next season.

“He’s up to the challenge,” Irsay said. “He knows the pressures that come with being Andrew Luck.”