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Colts confident in good Luck charm
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.
T.Y. Hilton didn't know his right foot was in. That's why he didn't, as he put it, "do my T.Y. thing," where he extends his arms outward for the "T" then skyward for the "Y."
Maybe Hilton should have known he was in — or at least that Andrew Luck had done his part by putting the ball in the perfect spot over New York Giants cornerback Jayron Hosley's outstretched right hand.
You see, that's how things are going right now for the Indianapolis Colts. Last year's No. 1 overall pick is in a familiar offense, with increased confidence in his more-experienced targets and a year in this league behind him, as well. He's in command, and he has his teammates dreaming of a big, big year for the entire offense.
"Yeah, we're all comfortable," Hilton said after Luck threw two touchdown passes in the Colts' 20-12 victory. "This is year 2, so the game is really slowing down for everybody that was a rookie last year. That actually helps us out.
"But when Luck is throwing the ball the way he's throwing it, we can't be stopped."
Last year, while Robert Griffin III, Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson were throwing and running their way to accolades and talk of their being the NFL quarterbacks of the future, Luck was having his own outstanding season, especially considering he was playing in a complex offense with mostly young targets and was getting hammered on a consistent basis.
This year — and yes, it's only preseason — Luck seems capable of quickly reminding the rest of the league why he was selected before Griffin and improving on his rookie-record 4,374 yards and 23 touchdowns.
"You know he's going to put the ball there. You have a quarterback guys dream of having," Hilton said. "I think he's going to be much better than last year.
"From where he left off, he's going to skyrocket."
Ahmad Bradshaw, back in his old home Sunday night, hasn't even played a down with Luck yet because of his recovery from foot surgery. But that didn't stop Bradshaw from gushing about Luck, whom he compared to Eli Manning. Bradshaw called Luck a "tough quarterback," which is a big-time compliment from a tough running back.
Bradshaw's presence is another reason to think Luck will make a big leap this season. In addition to helping the running game, Bradshaw is a very good pass protector, so he could help keep blitzers out of Luck's face.
"The sky's the limit. This offense, we've got so many playmakers," Bradshaw said. "And with him throwing the ball and coordinating the offense, there's no telling where we can go with this."
It wasn't a perfect night Sunday for Luck (9 for 13 for 107 yards and the touchdowns to Hilton and Reggie Wayne). The first touchdown was a pass he threw under pressure that should have been an interception, if Giants cornerback Aaron Ross hadn't let it bounce off his hands. But there was Wayne with his quick reaction to tip the ball to himself and make a play for a 28-yard score.
Wayne and Hilton should wind up being an outstanding duo for Luck, and it's clear he already has a terrific rapport with Hilton. As FOX color commentator Troy Aikman noted on Sunday's broadcast, Luck showed his confidence in Hilton by throwing an 18-yard comeback to Hilton's outside shoulder before Hilton had even started his break.
Like the touchdown pass a few plays later, Luck put the ball in the perfect spot. Knowing his targets and being reunited with his college coordinator, Pep Hamilton, has allowed Luck to work on ball placement this offseason.
"You try to do it all the time, obviously, but I'd like to think I'm improving on it," Luck told FOX Sports on his way out of MetLife Stadium. "It's great when you've got wideouts like Reggie, T.Y. and Darrius (Heyward-Bey) and tight ends like Coby (Fleener) and Dwayne (Allen) and good running backs. You know if you do give them an accurate ball, they'll make the play and run with it."
Even the ball to Hilton, which seemed like a very tough catch to make.
"He's always going to make those catches," Luck said. "I have great trust in him and all the guys."
And they in him.
"I'm on the side of not being surprised by (Luck's accuracy)," said Fleener, Luck's college teammate who left the game with a sprained knee, though he's confident it's not a serious injury. "I've seen it for however many years now and I'm still continually impressed."
After a pause, he added, "But not surprised."
Maybe the rest of the league will be surprised by an even bigger jump from what was already a terrific rookie season for Luck. Inside the locker room, they apparently won't be.
"He wants to win, he wants to play hard, he wants to do what everybody else wants to do," Bradshaw said. "He knows everybody's spot on the field. He's that way. He has to know what everybody's doing. You ask him anything and he knows exactly what to tell them, when to tell them and how to tell them. He's hip to this offense."