Andrew Luck doesn’t buy the notion that rookie quarterbacks should be allowed a bit of a grace period as they learn about life in the NFL.
Luck — who has completed 118 of 221 passes for 1,488 yards, seven touchdowns and seven interceptions through the first five games — says there really isn’t time to ease into the job.
“I don’t think so. There’s guys on this team that can’t wait for a rookie to grow up. Any position, a rookie player, we are trying to win. And I think any athlete, any competitor, would do that as well. I guess I don’t buy into that,” the Indianapolis Colts’ first-year signal caller said earlier this week.
He’s looking for improvement in his overall game after last Sunday’s 34-9 road loss to the New York Jets. Luck completed 22 of 44 passes for 280 yards with two interceptions and a lost fumble.
“I sort of got over it after watching the film and tried to be critical of myself and figure out the errors. Now our focus is on the Browns and we are ready to go,” he said, adding that he’s striving to get better every time he takes the field.
“You have to be consistent in this league if you want to be successful. You can’t take a play off and miss a wide-open guy in the end zone or have a decent drive and have it be third-and-1 and miss an open guy. So consistency [is important].”
Luck will be one of two rookie quarterbacks on the field Sunday when the Cleveland Browns come to Lucas Oil Stadium. Brandon Weeden is in his first season with Cleveland after leading Oklahoma State to a bowl game last January.
Ironically, Weeden’s OSU Cowboys posted a 41-38 overtime win over Luck’s Stanford Cardinals in the Fiesta Bowl. The game proved to be a shootout between both teams on the scoreboard and both quarterbacks statistically.
Luck wound up completing 27 of 31 for 341 yards with two touchdowns and had one pass intercepted. Weeden, meanwhile, was 29 of 42 for 399 yards with four total touchdowns (three passing and one rushing) and an interception.
“He’s a great quarterback. It was not so fun watching him live at the Fiesta Bowl and operate. I don’t know. It would be great if [Sunday’s game with the Browns will be] a shootout offensively, but a win would be nice,” the Colts’ quarterback said.
The first-year players initially got to know each other in the week prior to the bowl game. Their friendship continued to develop during the college football awards period as well as the run-up to April’s NFL Draft.
“He’s a good guy,” Luck mentioned. “I enjoyed being around him through the whole process.”
• Freeney says that he’ll be ready — Outside linebacker Dwight Freeney understands just how much he’ll be needed Sunday against the Browns.
With outside linebacker Robert Mathis questionable going into the Cleveland game as he recovers from a sprained knee, Freeney is being counted on to provide an outside pass rush against Weeden.
The problem is he’s still nursing a high ankle sprain that he suffered in the opening game of the season. While he has played the last two weekends, production has been off. Freeney had just one assisted tackle against the Jets and two solo stops, including a sack, against Green Bay two weeks ago.
“I’m feeling all right. Bumps and bruises, those things happen from week to week. Obviously, I’m still recovering from the ankle. That doesn’t really go away. I’m doing all right and I’m getting ready for this next matchup. It’s going to be a tough matchup,” he said Thursday.
“With the high ankle, it just hangs around. You don’t know when it’s going to get 100 percent. I don’t know if it ever is until maybe who knows, Week 12, 13, 14, whenever. You have to go out there and fight. That’s pretty much what I’ve been doing my whole career. Sometimes I’m not really 100 percent, but I just have to get back out there because the team needs me.”
With so many defensive players hurting — including defensive end Cory Redding (knee), defensive tackle Fili Moala (knee), nose tackle Martin Teveseu (ankle) and Mathis — Freeney knows that he’s being counted on to provide some much-needed stability.
“I’m going to continue to do the things I’ve always done. Obviously, it’s going to be tough. Missing Robert, missing Cory, missing Fili, it’s going to be a tough situation for us,” he acknowledged. “Like I’ve always said, ‘That’s why there’s 53 guys. That’s why there’s backups.’ Sometimes they are going to have to step up and make a play.”
Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky agreed.
“We’ve got a couple guys that are off the street that are playing for us and they’ve got to do it. I think [Wednesday] was a good day across the board from the linebackers to the defensive line,” he said Thursday. “We’ve got to separate and make sure that we tackle the guy with the ball.
“There’s been a decent amount of change, especially with Dwight being out [early in the season], and it looks like Robert, you know, is still cracked. We might have a chance to get him back [Sunday]. Across the board, we’ve got to, whoever we’ve got, we’ve got to coach them. We’ve got to get them out there to play and play at a fast level.”
• Roster moves — The Colts, as expected, signed rookie quarterback Chandler Harnish and outside linebacker Jerry Brown to the practice squad Wednesday night. Both had been released Monday evening and both passed through the waiver-wire process.
Indianapolis waived linebacker D.J. Bryant from the practice squad.
• Injury list — Sitting out Thursday’s practice were running back Donald Brown (knee), cornerback Darius Butler (shoulder), Mathis, Moala, Redding and Tevaseu.
Offensive guard Joe Reitz (knee) saw limited work for the second straight day. Inside linebacker Pat Angerer (foot), cornerback Vontae Davis (ankle), offensive tackle Winston Justice (ankle) and Freeney all fully participated in the workout.
• Sellout — The Browns-Colts game has been declared a sellout, avoiding the league-imposed television blackout. Nearly 800 tickets were available Wednesday but were sold before Thursday’s 1 p.m. deadline.
Indianapolis team officials, though, anticipate some visiting team ticket returns. Those returned tickets do not count against lifting the blackout and will be made available through normal channels.
Tickets are available for all remaining regular-season home games at the Lucas Oil Stadium ticket office, Ticketmaster ticket centers, charge-by-phone at (800) 745-3000 or online at www.ticketmaster.com.