Andrew Luck

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck hugs Colts owner Jim Irsay after announcing his retirement in a news conference on Saturday night.

Indianapolis was thought to be one of New England’s biggest threats.

At least one media outlet thinks the New England Patriots have the easiest overall schedule in the NFL for the upcoming season. Given their three AFC East division mates contribute six games to that schedule, and have barely put up a fight during the past two decades, it’s not an outlandish claim.

When you throw the Bengals, Redskins and Giants into the mix of softies along with the Dolphins, Bills and Jets, the notion gathers even more steam. Playing at least a half-dozen tomato cans won’t hurt the defending Super Bowl champions in their quest for title No. 7.

Now add Saturday night’s bombshell — Andrew Luck decided to retire.

That’s right, the Indianapolis Colts quarterback called it quits in an emotional press conference late Saturday night. Luck reportedly gave up $58 million in future money, and a chance to compete for a title with an up-and-coming Colts team that was considered one of the AFC’s best.

Translation: One of the biggest threats between the Patriots and Super Bowl LIV, now doesn’t have an elite quarterback at the helm.

Well, they still have Jacoby Brissett, who is a decent backup, but that’s the same Jacoby Brissett the Pats traded to the Colts two years ago after deeming he ultimately wasn’t what they were looking for in their quarterback stable.

Luck is more the type of quarterback that could beat you with his smarts, and his will to win. He used to be able to beat you with his arm, but he’s not the gunslinger he once was. Even so, he still was a battler with an advanced football brain. While he didn’t have much success against the Patriots in the past, going 0-6 lifetime, he certainly had the talent to beat any team, at any time.

And with general manager Chris Ballard doing a good job restocking the team after last season’s playoff appearance, building a good young defense, and supplying Luck with more weapons and a capable offensive line, expectations grew even higher this season.

They were one of the favorites, along with the Patriots, Chiefs, Chargers and Browns. Quite simply, Luck’s departure torpedoes the hopes of this rising team. It also makes it look like a shrewd move by Pats offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to get cold feet at the last minute, and back out on the Colts head coaching job last year.

So why did Luck call it quits and give up on a chance to possibly dethrone the Pats? He has been battling injuries the past four years. He described it as being in an “injury-pain-rehab-cycle” that hasn’t been much fun. First it was his shoulder, now it’s been an ankle injury, that just wasn’t improving. So he opted to retire at age 29, seven years after being the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 draft.

“I’ve been stuck in this process,” said Luck. “I haven’t been able to live the life I want to live. It’s taken the joy out of this game ... the only way forward for me is to remove myself from football.”

Luck led the Colts to the playoffs in each of his first three seasons in the NFL, including back-to-back AFC South titles and the AFC Championship Game in 2014.

The Patriots, of course, demolished them in that contest, 45-7, before going on to beat Seattle in Super Bowl XLIX.

Luck’s list of injuries reads a lot like that of former Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, who coincidentally, retired earlier this year. Along with shoulder and ankle woes, Luck has dealt with kidney and rib injuries that have forced him to miss time. While he at times questioned whether he would be able to continue his career due to his shoulder woes, he returned last year, throwing for 4,593 yards and 39 touchdowns to win NFL Comeback Player of the Year and leading the Colts back to the playoffs for the first time since 2015.

But, as he said Saturday night, he hit the proverbial fork in the road, after an ankle/calf problem just wouldn’t improve. He hated leaving a game he loved, and a team with so much promise. The news understandably rocked the NFL, and shook Colts Nation. It’s hard to blame him if his heart and mind are no longer in it. Luck, however, heard a lot of boos from Colts fans as he left the field on Saturday night. Via Twitter, several Patriots players, namely Devin McCourty and Kyle Van Noy, expressed their displeasure with the harsh treatment of the now retired quarterback.

Gordon in full pads

Patriots wide receiver Josh Gordon was in full pads for Sunday afternoon’s practice, an indication that he’ll be removed from the non-football injury list.

Gordon, who was conditionally reinstated by the NFL on Aug. 16, should be good to go for the regular season.

The Patriots open the season with a Sept. 8 prime time home game against the Steelers.

Gordon joins Julian Edelman and Demaryius Thomas as receivers who have been added to the active roster within the past week.

After Tom Brady spent the week in Nashville throwing to a three-receiver set of Braxton Berrios, Dontrelle Inman, and Gunner Olszewski, the Patriots find themselves suddenly loaded with prominent wideouts.

In addition to Gordon, Patriots safety Patrick Chung returned to practice following a two-day absence. Chung is scheduled to be arraigned for a possession of cocaine charge on Wednesday in New Hampshire.

A host of Patriots were missing from Sunday’s practice. Running back Damien Harris, center David Andrews, tight end Ben Watson, tight end Lance Kendricks, defensive end Derek Rivers, defensive end Shilique Calhoun, and outside linebacker Trent Harris were not spotted.

Linebacker Brandon King, a special teams star, was placed on injured reserve. He reportedly suffered a torn quadriceps in the team’s preseason win over the Panthers.


Three weeks ago, wide receiver Maurice Harris was running with the starters. He looked like a strong bet to not only make the team, but to contribute at some point.

Things changed quickly.

During joint practices in Detroit, Harris was surpassed on the depth chart by undrafted rookie Jakobi Meyers. Then he suffered an undisclosed leg injury during joint practices in Nashville. Finally, Josh Gordon and Demaryius Thomas were unexpectedly added to the active roster. In the end, there just wasn’t room for Harris.

The Patriots waived Harris with an injury designation on Sunday, according to ESPN’s Field Yates.

A rangy slot receiver who possesses excellent hands, Harris should latch on elsewhere. He enjoyed a strong minicamp and played well in the opening week of training camp.

The Patriots also waived