Andrew Luck says that he’s ready to face the Chicago Bears’ vaunted defense.
Of course, the Indianapolis Colts’ rookie quarterback understands that there’s a big difference between being ready to play and actually playing well. But that’s his objective heading into Sunday’s regular-season opener at Solider Field (1 p.m., CBS Sports).
“Excited. Obviously going up against a great team, great defense. It will be a great measuring stick I think for us. Just very excited to get going,” Luck said before the start of Wednesday’s practice.
The Colts’ No. 1 draft pick knows that the tempo and overall speed of the game will pick up considerably with the regular-season underway. But Luck had a strong showing over the course of four preseason games, improvement which he hopes will continue this week.
“Having the preseason games and sort of getting back there and feeling live bullets standing in the pocket, and going through that was helpful. [I’ve been] trying to think about comparing it to freshman year in college where you don’t get to scrimmage anybody else, you don’t get to play anybody else,” he pointed out.
“I’ll take these next couple practices [this week] very seriously. I think those will help prepare [me] and hopefully I’ll be ready to go.”
As a rookie in the National Football League, particularly as a first-year starting quarterback in the league, Luck is quite aware that there will be more than a few bumps and bruises along the way. After all, his predecessor with the Colts — Peyton Manning — threw 28 interceptions en route to a 3-13 season in 1998. Manning also had 26 touchdown passes that season.
“I hope I don’t have to [experience a lot of growing pains]. But yeah. I think it’s part of growing up. Part of being a rookie is, I guess, coming up to situations that you haven’t seen before,” Luck said. “I’ve got great guys to rely on all around this locker room. Just try to get to the basics when things like that happen and just run the offense.”
So what’s been the biggest transition from being the starting quarterback at Stanford to, now, being the No. 1 starter for the Colts?
“I think so far it’s been just the breadth of [pass] protections. The different types of protections. Drop back, play-action, the nakeds, the boots,” he voiced. “We didn’t have that many in college and now I’m like, ‘Okay this is a man protection, this picks up this type of blitz, this is scat, this is a slide protection.’ That’s sort of been the biggest challenge.”
And what’s it like preparing to face a defense with so many recognizable names such as middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, defensive end Julius Pepper and outside linebacker Lance Briggs?
“I think at first when you turn the film on, you’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, that is Julius Peppers, standing up there.’ But you have to get that out of your system and you can’t go out there and stare in awe of those guys,” Luck said.
“Obviously, you watch them growing up but you’re not trying to get autographs from them, you’re trying to win a game. So it’ll be fun and I’m looking forward to it.”
• Pagano on Luck — Prior to assuming the title as the Colts’ first-year head coach, Chuck Pagano was the Baltimore Ravens’ defensive coordinator.
Pagano was asked Wednesday how, as a coordinator, would he approach facing a rookie quarterback who is playing in his first-ever NFL game. He was also asked if Indianapolis was prepared for what Luck might see his first time out.
“I think going in you’d like to say, ‘Ok, try to make him work. Make him execute. See how far along he is with the learning curve, so to speak.’ They’ve got enough on tape to where they’ve got to make that decision as far as looking at Andrew and where he’s at compared to most rookies,” he said.
“So I think generally speaking you would say, ‘Ok look, we’ve got us a rookie quarterback, let’s get after him.’ Some teams, that’s their [motivation], some teams that’s not their [motivation]. If they choose to rush with four guys, that’s fine. If they want to bring everybody, then we’ll be prepared for it.”
Whatever Chicago coach Lovie Smith and defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli may try to come up with in order to confuse Luck, Pagano believes his quarterback will be up to the challenge.
“There will be butterflies, I’m sure. He’ll be anxious just like everybody else. [Ravens outside linebacker Terrell] Suggs threw up before every game, ten years in. That’s just how competitive guys are. Once he gets out there and he gets rolling, it’ll be business as usual for [Luck],” he said.
“You’ve seen it year-in and year-out at every level especially in the NFL. They’re going to give us something that we haven’t seen. They may save something for the second half that we haven’t seen. So you just kind of pick yourself up, make the corrections on the sideline and move forward.”
It’s safe to say, though, that Pagano has a lot of faith and confidence in his young quarterback.
“The kid expects a lot from himself, so he would be the first one to tell you that he expects high standards. Obviously he expects to play well. He knows his teammates are expecting him to do that. He also understands that there’s going to be mistakes just like any other position out there,” the Colts coach said.
“He’s no different than some of the other guys that are here. We’ve got a ton of youth out there, obviously, that are going to make mistakes. Just make them full speed, go on to the next play and forget it.”
• Injury update — The first official game-week injury report for the Colts was released late Wednesday afternoon.
Inside linebacker Pat Angerer (foot) is out indefinitely. He has not practiced since he was hurt against St. Louis in the team’s first preseason game. Offensive guard Joe Reitz (knee) also didn’t practice on Wednesday. Reitz was inadvertently kicked in the knee during practice last week.
Running back Delone Carter (chest/ribs) and rookie wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (shoulder) both saw limited work Wednesday.
Running back Mewelde Moore (chest/ribs), wide receiver Austin Collie (head/concussion), cornerback Jerraud Powers (knee) and defensive end Cory Redding (knee) all fully participated in Wednesday’s workout.
Pagano said that Collie is still slated to start Sunday against the Bears. Prior to returning to practice on Monday, he had missed the final two preseason games.
Andrew Luck says that he’s ready to face the Chicago Bears’ vaunted defense.
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Colts hoping for more high marks on draft picks
A year ago, the Indianapolis Colts received high marks for the impact players the team added through the NFL draft.
Of the 10 players selected, five ended up either starting or seeing extensive playing time (quarterback Andrew Luck, tight ends Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen, wide receiver T.Y. Hilton and running back Vick Ballard) during the Colts’ 11-5 season.
While this year’s class may not rival that group in terms of name recognition and flash, it may produce just as many major contributors once the 2013 season gets underway.
Werner at top of game
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Colts in wait-and-see mode for tonight’s NFL draft
As the 2013 NFL draft gets underway tonight at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, the Indianapolis Colts are continuing their wait-and-see stance in regard to the first-round pick.
The draft begins at 8 p.m. — televised by the NFL Network and ESPN — with the Kansas City Chiefs making the night’s first selection. Teams will have 10 minutes to make their decisions during the first round. Indianapolis will have the 24th overall pick in the first round.
There will be only one round tonight. The second and third rounds are scheduled for Friday, beginning at 6:30 p.m. with seven minutes allotted per pick in the second round and five minutes allowed in the third. The final four rounds are slated to begin at noon Saturday with four minutes between selections.
As it stands now, Indianapolis does not have a second-round pick. It was traded to Miami last fall in exchange for veteran cornerback Vontae Davis. But second-year general manager Ryan Grigson has nut ruled out the possibility of trading down from the first round if the Colts aren’t satisfied with the players available.
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Add one more player to the list of veteran free agents signed by the Indianapolis Colts this offseason.
Former Oakland Raiders wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey agreed to a a deal with the Colts late Monday evening. Bey, who played collegiately at Maryland, was the seventh player selected in the first round of the 2009 National Football League draft.
Colts sign nose tackle
Another day, more player signings for the Indianapolis Colts.
Nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin agreed to terms with the Colts on Tuesday evening and officially signed with the team Wednesday. Franklin (6-1, 315) is a 10-year NFL veteran with stops in Baltimore (2003-06), San Francisco (2007-10), New Orleans (2011) and San Diego (2012).
Colts sign Matt Hasselbeck to back up Luck
The Indianapolis Colts’ roster moves just keep coming.
While the Colts haven’t yet added that big-name wide receiver that team owner Jim Irsay hinted at in tweets over the weekend, Indianapolis has addressed one area on offense.
Former Tennessee Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck had agreed Monday night to be the Colts’ primary back-up to second-year starter Andrew Luck. He officially signed a two-year, $8 million contract with the team Tuesday morning.
“We are very pleased to announce the signing of Matt Hasselbeck,” general manager Ryan Grigson said in a prepared statement. “His body of work, intangibles, and extensive league experience speak for themselves. Those factors, plus his familiarity with our offensive scheme, will make him a great asset to our team and its vision as we move forward.”
Colts likely done signing free agents, for now
With the possible exception of adding a few lesser-priced players, the Indianapolis Colts’ big-time foray into the veteran free-agent marketplace is pretty much done.
Landry, Jean Francois join Colts defensive unit
After adding five veteran free agent players to the Indianapolis Colts roster on Tuesday, general manager Ryan Grigson plucked two more plums late Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon.
New York Jets safety LaRon Landry and San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle Ricky Jean-Francois both signed contracts with the Colts. Landry, a strong safety who appears to be a bigger version of former Indianapolis Pro Bowler Bob Sanders, and the versatile Jean-Francois are expected to make immediate impacts on the Colts’ defensive unit.
Colts introduce free-agent signees
What the Indianapolis Colts accomplished last season — posting an 11-5 record and earning an AFC wild-card berth with a young team plus having that kind of success without its head coach on the sidelines for 12 games — didn’t go unnoticed by players around the NFL.
That was especially true for the five veteran free agents who were added to the Colts’ roster Tuesday. Offensive tackle Gosder Cherilus (Detroit), cornerback Greg Toler (Arizona), outside linebacker Erik Walden (Green Bay), offensive guard Donald Thomas (New England) and linebacker Lawrence Sidbury (Atlanta) admitted as much Wednesday.
“I felt like this would be the best fit for me at this point in my career. I really liked what I saw was happening with the program here and the way things have taken shape. I feel like we have a really great team here and it’s on the rise. I really wanted to be a part of that,” Thomas said during a teleconference interview with the Colts’ media.
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Jeff Saturday retires as a Colt
An Indianapolis Colt for life. Pencil in Jeff Saturday for that honor.
The 14-year veteran center in the NFL put an official stamp on a career Thursday that began in Baltimore in 1998 and ended in Green Bay in 2012. But it was those 13 seasons in between — from 1999 to 2011 in which he played for Indianapolis — when Saturday earned his greatest rewards.
Saturday thrilled to retire as a Colt
The 14-year veteran center in the National Football League put an official stamp on a career Thursday that began in Baltimore in 1998 and ended in Green Bay in 2012. But it was those 13 seasons in-between — from 1999 to 2011 in which he played for Indianapolis — that Saturday earned his greatest rewards.
Saturday to retire as Colt on Thursday
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Indianapolis franchises punter McAfee
A week ago, Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano said it was a priority that the team retain the services of punter Pat McAfee.
McAfee, an unrestricted free agent who’s contract is due to expire March 12, was designated as the Colts’ franchise player Friday. The move allows Indianapolis extra time to work out a long-term deal for the team’s special-teams ace.
“He’s huge. He’s a major priority in free agency. Obviously, we’ve reached out and are working to get Pat re-signed,” Pagano said during the National Football Scouting Combine. “We saw what he did for us last year. He’s a great weapon, not only kickoffs and touchbacks.
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Back and ready to go.
That’s the attitude Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano is taking during the National Football Scouting Combine, which completed its second day of operations Friday at Lucas Oil Stadium. During a wide-ranging press conference at the combine, Pagano confirmed that he is back to a full work regimen after missing 12 games last fall as he battled a rare form of leukemia.
After undergoing cancer treatments that featured heavy doses of chemotherapy, the second-year head coach was able to return to the sidelines for Indianapolis’ final regular-season home game against Houston and for the team’s AFC wild-card matchup with eventual Super Bowl champion Baltimore.
Colts looking forward to different approach to draft in 2013
A year ago, the Indianapolis Colts had the first overall pick in the 2012 National Football League draft.
It was a foregone conclusion that the Colts would select former Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck with the selection. While Indianapolis front office and player personnel officials certainly had to do their due diligence in preparing for the draft, the Colts find themselves this year in a bit different situation.
The team will have the 24th overall pick in the first round, which is a double-edged sword. Indianapolis picks lower in the round due to a successful season. But the pool of available can’t-miss talent isn’t quite as plentiful as drafting earlier in the round.
Former Pro Bowl selection Freeney won't return to Colts
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Quarterback Andrew Luck running the Pistol offense? Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton lining up in the Wildcat?
Colts moving on to the off season
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Baltimore ends Indy’s playoff run early
The Baltimore Ravens want one long final ride for Ray Lewis. Having disposed of Andrew Luck and the Colts, they now face a more imposing challenge.
Next up, Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos.
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