Andrew Luck expected to begin practicing this week

— -- Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck is expected to begin practicing as early as this week, a major step toward his eventual return to the playing field, according to sources familiar with Luck's rehabilitation from shoulder surgery in mid-January.

Sources say Luck will likely require two to three weeks of preparation for his first start of 2017, which would project a potential return around Weeks 5 to 7, barring any setbacks.

Regardless, the Colts are sticking with their edict that there is no specific timeline or deadline.

Luck's quest to return has included a phone call within recent weeks to New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who shared his experience in recovering from a major shoulder injury in 2006. That conversation led to Luck paying a visit to Brees' physical therapist, Dr. Kevin Wilk, in conjunction and cooperation with the Colts' hierarchy and medical staff, sources said.

Luck had not suffered any setbacks before he turned to Brees and Wilk, but sources say his recent progress has been noticeable and encouraging enough that he is expected to participate in limited portions of practice as early as next week, which will be a necessary leg of his rehab to resuming his job as the Colts' starting quarterback.

Luck's practice plan will be designed not to interfere with current starter Jacoby Brissett's preparations.

There is zero thought that Luck will sit out the season, regardless of the Colts' record when he is cleared to play, sources said. He wants to play, and orthopedic specialists and therapists have advised that it is in the best long-term interest to play once his shoulder has full strength, endurance and range of motion.

The Colts do not have Luck on the physically unable to perform list. Otherwise the quarterback would not have been permitted to practice until after Week 6.