Indianapolis expects Hasselbeck to play with injured rib

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — First, Andrew Luck went down.

Now backup Matt Hasselbeck is hurting.

Less than 24 hours after the 40-year-old Colts quarterback left a blowout loss in Pittsburgh with neck and shoulder pain, coach Chuck Pagano said Hasselbeck was diagnosed with a stiff neck and a mild rib separation.

However, those injuries should not keep him out of Sunday's game at Jacksonville.

"He was at the doc and in the scanner when we met, so I haven't had a conversation with him yet," Pagano said Monday. "They tell me he'll be on the practice field Wednesday. If we have to monitor his reps, we'll do that, but he should be all right."

That's better news than initially feared.

After Sunday's embarrassing 45-10 defeat, Hasselbeck had X-rays on his neck and shoulder area and was moving slowly around the locker room. He said he was initially hurt on a hit in the first quarter and then was hurt again after taking another big shot in the fourth.

Only then did Hasselbeck leave the game, giving way to backup Charlie Whitehurst who finished 4 of 8 with 51 yards in his first action since being claimed off waivers by Indy on Nov. 12.

Neither Hasselbeck nor Whitehurst spoke with reporters Monday.

But the Colts have been short at quarterback for more than a month.

Luck hasn't played since suffering a lacerated kidney and partially torn abdominal muscle in a victory over Denver on Nov. 8. At the time, the Colts said Luck was expected to miss two to six weeks.

While he began throwing at practice last week, he hasn't yet been cleared to go full throttle.

In a Twitter post last week, team owner Jim Irsay indicated the target date for Luck's return was Dec. 20 when Houston visits Lucas Oil Stadium in a matchup between the AFC South's co-leaders.

Hasselbeck has been one of the best backups this season. He started and won two games earlier this season when Luck was out with an injured throwing shoulder.

He then won his first two starts after Luck went out for the second time this season to become the third quarterback in the Super Bowl era to win four straight games at age 40 or older.

Against Pittsburgh, though, Hasselbeck looked every bit his age. He was 16 of 26 with 169 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. He was sacked twice and took two big hits that put him on an already long injury list.

"I got hit on the top of the head and kind of just got my head compressed into my neck, or into my, you know, whatever," Hasselbeck said after the game in describing the second hit.

The good news is that if the Colts do need Whitehurst, he has some knowledge of the Jaguars' defense.

Whitehurst started five games last season with Tennessee and went 1-1 against Jacksonville. In 10 seasons, Whitehurst is just 193 of 348 with 2,179 yards, 10 touchdowns and six interceptions.

Indy has only three quarterbacks on its active roster — Luck, Hasselbeck and Whitehurst — with another, Alex Tanney, on the practice squad. It still doesn't sound as if the Colts are looking for another short-term solution.

And Hasselbeck's teammates don't expect him to miss much time, if any.

"Matt's a tough guy, he fought through E. coli or whatever," tight end Dwayne Allen said, recalling Hasselbeck's performance at Houston in October. "If there is a quarterback change, which I don't expect, we'll all have to pick up our game."

Notes: Pagano also said inside linebacker Nate Irving suffered a fractured wrist Sunday and safety Colt Anderson injured his ankle Sunday. Both are listed as week to week. ... Receiver Phillip Dorsett (lower leg) and right guard Hugh Thornton (elbow) are expected to return to practice Wednesday. ... Pagano said left tackle Anthony Castonzo (right knee) is "doing better" but is still week to week.



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