Indianapolis' Luck gets 1 more chance to tune up
Andrew Luck still wants all those seemingly meaningless preseason snaps.
With his NFL debut less than two weeks away, Thursday night's preseason finale against Cincinnati will be the final chance for Luck and the Colts to fix any problems before the downs and games start counting.
It's an opportunity the No. 1 overall draft pick promises won't be thrown away.
''Any experience is incredibly helpful for me right now, just to be out there and with a lack of really any NFL experience, I have to take advantage of some game experience,'' Luck said Tuesday. ''We would like to put a touchdown on the board, a couple touchdowns or however many drives we're out there.''
The goal is to show that last week's 30-17 loss at Washington was the anomaly, not the norm.
In his toughest week as a pro, Indy's new franchise quarterback went 14 of 23 for 151 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions, but he took plenty of hits, saw key penalties stall drives and struggled to get the Colts (No. 32 in AP Pro32) into the end zone.
But throughout training camp and the preseason, Luck has demonstrated an uncanny resilience. During two-a-days at Anderson University, Luck's best performances often came after his worst practices.
And after throwing two interceptions in a preseason loss at Pittsburgh, Luck led the Colts on touchdown drives both times and rallied the team from a 14-0 deficit to a 17-14 halftime lead.
The next big test comes against the Bengals (No. 14), another blitz-happy team that will give Luck plenty of looks to contemplate.
Coach Chuck Pagano said he hasn't yet decided how much Luck and the starters will play as he tries to sort out a delicate balancing act.
''You're always worried about trying to get out of this thing as healthy as possible but at the same time, all of those guys still need the work,'' Pagano said. ''We (the coaches) will sit down and meet on that tomorrow and make a decision on just how much we want to play those guys.''
More playing time is imperative for the new-look Colts and particularly for Luck.
In three weeks at training camp, Luck threw 447 passes in team drills. He's thrown another 64 passes in the first three preseason games, and there's no real concern about his right arm wearing out. If it was Luck's choice, he'd just keep throwing the ball.
''I'm happy with the volume that coach (Bruce) Arians and coach Pagano have given me. It's been very helpful,'' he said. ''I still feel very fresh, excited to go for this last preseason game and then the opener in Chicago.''
There are still kinks to be worked out on the offense, though.
''It's tough to be a good offense if you're committing penalties, if you're taking sacks, if you're putting yourself behind the 8-ball on a drive,'' Luck said. ''If we can stay ahead of the curve in that department, I think we'll be all right.''
It's not just Luck trying to get in sync with his receivers, running backs or offensive linemen.
The Colts also have overhauled the defense with plenty of new faces as they make the switch from a 4-3 defense to Pagano's preferred 3-4 hybrid, and injuries have created additional problems.
Starting inside linebacker Pat Angerer is expected to miss another four to six weeks after having surgery to repair a fractured right foot. Defensive end Cory Redding may miss his third preseason game, his second with a strained knee.
Converted linebacker Robert Mathis may sit out his second straight game with a shoulder injury, and Pagano is even trying to figure out how to give some players an extra break in the midst of a span that the Colts will play three games in 15 days.
''It has been a challenge on everybody, not only on the players but the coaches,'' Pagano said. ''We've had to scramble to try and keep this team as healthy as possible and give them an opportunity, from a game plan standpoint, to go out and be successful.''
He's still not sure whether newly-acquired cornerback Vontae Davis will play.
Indy traded two draft picks, including a second-rounder, to Miami on Sunday to get Davis. After making his first locker room appearance Monday, Davis stayed late Monday night to learn the playbook - a stark contrast from the player Dolphins coaches criticized for his work ethic.
''We just threw him out there in the last two days. Looking at the tape, I don't see a whole lot of mistakes going on. We're kind of, from a call standpoint, taking it easy on him. But we've thrown enough at him to where he's responded,'' Pagano said. ''He was the last guy out of the building yesterday. ... He's putting the time in and he's bound and determined to make this thing work.''
But the Colts know the key to this season will be Luck's progression.
''We'll learn as this season goes along and I'm sure you've got 14-year NFL quarterback veterans that are still learning as their season goes on,'' Luck said. ''I think we'll all try and be sponges and soak up everything that is said, whether it was Day 1 of OTAs, minicamps, or the last preseason game.''
Notes: The Colts claimed receiver Kashif Moore off waivers from the Bengals and placed another receiver, Jarred Fayson, on the waived-injured list after he hurt his knee Monday. If Fayson goes unclaimed, he will be added to Indy's injured reserve list. ... Pagano said offensive lineman Joe Reitz missed Tuesday's practice after getting kicked in the knee Monday.