Indianapolis Colts Football

IN TIME OF NEED, FAMILIARITY RETURNS TO BACKFIELD

Posted by Kevin Bowen on December 12, 2012 – 4:15 pm

It looked like Anderson all over again.

No, this wasn’t training camp and the setting was a little further south at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center but back in the corner of the Colts locker room on Wednesday was the group of running backs, including Deji Karim and Mewelde Moore, looking like they had never missed a beat with each other.

Karim and Moore returned to the facility for practice on Wednesday as the next chapter of ‘next man up’ will focus on the running back position.

Moore played six games for the Colts this season and was frequently used as a third down back earlier this year before being cut on Oct. 29. With running backs Donald Brown and Robert Hughes being placed on injured reserve on Tuesday and Delone Carter out two to three weeks according to Bruce Arians, Moore’s return will directly impact Sunday’s game.

“That’s my goal at all times,” Moore said of getting back out on the field. “I’m a competitor and I love to compete. I’m very grateful to be back and being able to get a chance to play.”

Where as Moore survived training camp cuts, Karim did not with a crowded backfield allowing for only four spots on the opening day regular season roster.

Not only is Karim returning to the fold with playing time up for grabs this weekend but he is also coming to a team who he spent all of the offseason with, and now a team on the brink of the playoffs.

“When we are in meetings (Wednesday), going through the plays and everything it just came back naturally,” Karim said of the offensive scheme. “Just asking for details from coach (Walker) and putting things together was much easier.”

“I spent three years in Jacksonville and no playoff hopes at all, not at this point of the season, so I’m looking forward to it.”

Starting running back Vick Ballard is the lone healthy back that has remained in the lineup for the entire season.

As a nine-year veteran, Moore has seen his fair share of backs grow up before him and he admitted it’s been special sitting at home watching Ballard’s growth.

“I’m very proud just to be able to come in from the beginning of it and see Vick how he’s evolving and growing in the game and becoming more and more of a professional,” Moore said. “I’m very excited about it and I’m very happy that he’s achieving great things.”

While their numbers have changed to 37 (Moore) and 36 (Karim), both players are perfectly content with where the Colts are positioned in the middle of December.

Moore was a member of the Steelers Super Bowl XLIII team and it’s games at this point of the season that is why he finds himself still in the league at the age of 30.

“It’s what you dream about,” Moore said of playing in December. “This is the part of the season that every kid’s played in his backyard. A final play, fourth-and-two and you are diving over the pile. This is the type of football that now means the most. Football in December, January and so on.”


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INSIDE THE COLTS FIRST TWO SCORING DRIVES OF THE SECOND HALF

Posted by Kevin Bowen on December 10, 2012 – 2:00 pm

Cassius Vaughn’s interception return for a touchdown gave the Colts their first lead on Sunday afternoon but it was one offensive drive that got the comeback started, and another that gave Indianapolis the lead for good in earning its seventh victory in the last eight games.

Carter’s one-yard touchdown run

The scene: Down 20-7, the Colts take over following halftime at the 20-yard and a Rob Bironas touchback.

The anatomy of the drive: Fourteen plays, for 80 yards in 6:24. After converting just one-of-five third-downs in the first half, the Colts had three of them on the opening drive of the third quarter.

Key play: Reggie Wayne converted two third-downs on the drive but the third-and-11 at the Titans 38-yard line was truly spectacular. Wayne lined up to the right of Andrew Luck as a slot receiver. As Luck escaped pressure and rolled to his right he threw the ball up for Wayne and the 12-year veteran broke free from double coverage and hauled in his 28th third-down reception on the season.

The score: On a third-and-goal from the one-yard line, running back Delone Carter punched it in with offensive lineman Tony Hills in the game as a tackle eligible. The Colts had their three tight ends lined up on the left side of the line of scrimmage and Carter ran behind them for his second one-yard touchdown of the season against the Titans.

Vinatieri’s 53-yard field goal

The scene: Down 23-21, the Colts take over following a Bironas 25-yard field-goal and a touchback, placing the ball at the Indianapolis 20-yard line.

The anatomy of the drive: 10 plays, for 45 yards in 4:05. The drive included the Colts overcoming a second-and-15 and a second-and-10 as Indianapolis converted three first downs in regaining the lead.

Key play: With the Colts facing a second-and-16 from their own 28-yard line, Luck went right back to wide receiver Donnie Avery. On the previous play, Avery couldn’t corral a high pass and took a hit from Titans cornerback Ryan Mouton. Avery got up slowly from the hit but on the next play he went high in the air again to gather an 18-yard reception and keep Indianapolis away from a third-and-15.

The score: Vinatieri’s 53-yard field goal matched his season long and the 39-year old showed he still has plenty of distance left. The kicking game was terrific all afternoon and Vinatieri connected on both of his field goal attempts and is now seven-of-12 on the year from 40+ yards.


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A COLTS FULLBACK? HUGHES PROVIDING TO BE MORE THAN JUST THAT

Posted by Kevin Bowen on November 15, 2012 – 5:16 pm

Colts general manager Ryan Grigson is relentless in trying to build the back end of his 53-man roster.

Sure the glitz and the glamour of the starters dominate the headlines but it’s acquiring guys who might be out of football or searching for another opportunity to fulfill that dream that Grigson truly appreciates.

Robert Hughes fits that mold.

In less than two seasons, Hughes has bounced around four different practice squads.

The Colts were the fourth team he found after signing with Indianapolis on Oct. 9.

Hughes had been released from the Washington Redskins on Sept. 11 and was waiting for another call.

Little did Hughes know that come late October he would be called up to the Colts active roster and contributing for a team in the thick of the AFC playoff picture.

“It’s the fact that I get to go out there and help this team win,” Hughes said. “When you work hard and continue to fight for stuff like this, it’s good to kind of see things starting to fall into place.”

With the Colts rushing attack starting to develop the last four weeks, Hughes has been apart of that success from the fullback position.

During his days at the University of Notre Dame, Hughes was a tailback and found success in short yardage and goal line situations.

Did he ever think he would become an NFL fullback?

“Never did. Never crossed my mind,” Hughes said of moving to fullback. “But it’s an opportunity to be here in this league and it’s a privilege. You have to do whatever the coaches and your teammates ask you to do.”

Bruce Arians has never been a ‘fullback guy’ but likes the skillet that Hughes possess.

“I really like (Hughes) as a football player. He brings a bright, strong player who can play multiple positions and he’ll be a good special teams player,” Arians said.

“I see him more as a running back who can play fullback and gives us good quality depth. Big, power back and I didn’t really know he could do this job. He’s found a nice niche for himself. He’s got great hands. Again, he brings another receiver with some speed on the field. He’s not a traditional thud fullback.”

Hughes, who measures in at five-feet-11-inches and 235 pounds, made his NFL debut against the Dolphins and recorded his first career catch last Thursday against the Jaguars.

His contributions offensively have come mainly in short yardage situations while being paired in the backfield with 238-pound Delone Carter.

“He gets in there, puts is helmet on a defender and finds his way through the line to the defender very well. He’s very useful for us,” Carter said.

The use of a fullback is something that Colts fans haven’t been accustomed to as defensive players have tended to occupy that position for much of the past few seasons.

A running back turned fullback sits just fine with Hughes and his ability to impact the game in more ways than one is why Grigson and his staff brought him onto the active roster.

“It’s been a great opportunity,” Hughes said. “The more you can do in this league, the longer you can stay around. I’m just trying to do as much as possible and as much as the coaches can ask of me to do.”


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ARIANS TALKS PAGANO, GRIGSON AND ROAD EFFORT ON RADIO SHOW

Posted by Kevin Bowen on October 30, 2012 – 9:42 am

Colts interim head coach/offensive coordinator Bruce Arians joined ‘Voice of the Colts’ Bob Lamey on Monday evening for the ‘Pagano Show.’ Below are some of the highlights from Arians on Monday night.
On the surprise visit from head coach Chuck Pagano to the complex:

“It was great. Chuck stopped in for the staff meeting today. He had been down to the hospital, saw the doctors and got a great report on his counts and everything was up. He was able to stop in and spend an hour or two. I think it was great medicine for him because he felt great about it and we were all excited to have him in there.”

On the final play against the Titans and the effort by rookie Vick Ballard:

“That was just a spectacular effort on his part and just a great play to have the wherewithal to spin, turn the ball away from everybody, protect it, and still get the height he has to (in order) to make it in from the four (yard line). Just a fantastic individual effort but some really great blocks by some guys out on that screen also to get him that point where he launched and got it in.”

On doing a little more on the road and if the team accomplished that:

“Doing your job is just not enough. We had some unbelievable efforts on the defensive line, guys throwing their bodies around and holding Chris Johnson to 99 yards, then getting off the field on third down in the second half. It was really above and beyond. That’s what you’ve got to do to win games on the road. The play like Vicks’ and the plays leading up to it…there was a play in there, the third-and-10 when Andrew hit Reggie down the middle for a big one. It was a good team win.”

On general manager Ryan Grigson and working together when assembling a roster:

“We have great dialogue between that side of the building and our side of the building. It’s just one. There really are no sides to this building. It’s just Colts. It’s a great feeling. Ryan and Chuck started it off and I feel like the whole staff feels that way with Tommy (Telesco) and Ryan and everybody.”

On the running back depth and if the team is starting to form a ‘three-headed monster’:

“I knew we had a good set of backs. Each guy that’s stepped in there now has a role. With Delone (Carter) in short yardage, he’s done a good job since he was injured. I know Donald (Brown) was going to be an explosive player for us and we all thought Vick was going to become a really good player. He got thrown in there more than we hoped to early but he’s answered the challenge. Now, we have some good depth.”

On limiting Chris Johnson to under 100 yards:

“He made me hold my breath a couple of times when he came popping out of there but we did a great job of tackling him, and a great job of tackling receivers after the catch. We didn’t give them anything big. They are notorious for big plays. Chris is the best. Defensively, we did a great job of holding him down.”

On the 4-3 Dolphins next up on the calendar:

“You got two young teams, first year staffs with guys that are playing hard. They obviously have bought in down there like our guys have bought in. Both are 4-3 and they got a three-game winning streak and we got a two-game winning streak. This is a big game for the AFC.”


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BALLARD TAKES IN FIRST NFL START

Posted by Kevin Bowen on October 15, 2012 – 8:00 pm

For the first time in his NFL career, when quarterback Andrew Luck turned around to hand the ball off on the first offensive series, he didn’t see Donald Brown.

Rookie running back Vick Ballard made his first career start on Sunday in place of the injured Brown.

Ballard had 25 yards on eight carries and although he started off the game in the backfield, there wasn’t too much of a change for the Colts fifth round draft pick.

“I don’t think it felt any different because I still got the same amount of plays because of the two-minute (offense) when Mewelde (Moore) got in there,” Ballard said. “I think I had 29 plays so it really wasn’t any different for me other than getting the first series.”

Moore was used primarily on third downs for the Colts and also in the two-minute offense. Second-year running back Delone Carter saw extended playing time in just his second game of the season, carrying the ball four times

With Ballard in the starting lineup, the Colts had four rookies start on Sunday and a total of eight saw action on the offense.

The film room was the place to find Ballard on Monday and he recognized a few teaching points he will take into the Colts meeting with Cleveland this weekend.

“We obviously have to take care of the ball,” Ballard said. “Attention to detail, execution, whenever we do those things, good things will happen. Just going to come to work Wednesday and get ready for next week.”

This was just the second road game for the Colts and although getting the start didn’t seem to be different for Ballard, playing away from home was an adjustment for him.

“I guess you could say crowd noise because sometimes, you know the snap count but you can’t hear it because the quarterback is under center,” Ballard said of the biggest difference.

“You just have to kind of look at the ball. Where as if we are playing at home, you can listen to the quarterback and hear the calls and stuff.”

Ballard now has 29 carries on the season and that number will continue to rise with Brown expected to be out of the lineup again this weekend.

The run production wasn’t where the offense wanted it on Sunday but the guys in front of Ballard appreciate his running style.

“I like the way Vick runs,” offensive guard Jeff Linkenbach said. “He runs downhill. Vick isn’t afraid to just punch it into a hole. We like that as offensive linemen, someone that is willing to just jam it up in there for a few.”


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CARTER IS READY TO CONTRIBUTE

Posted by Kevin Bowen on October 10, 2012 – 2:43 pm

With the news of running back Donald Brown being sidelined for a couple of weeks, the opportunity for chances in the backfield has caught the attention of Delone Carter.

The Colts second-year running back has been hampered by a rib injury in 2012 and saw his first action of the season last week against the Packers.

Carter did not record a carry on Sunday but he knows his chances of contributing to the run game will increase the next few weeks.

“I’m just waiting for an opportunity to step in and help my team out the best way I can,” Carter said.

“You have stay faithful, work hard and go out there and put your best foot forward so when the time comes, you’re ready.”

Last season, Carter saw ample playing time in his rookie campaign. He carried the ball 101 times for 377 yards and scored a pair of touchdowns.

Since suffering the rib injury in the Colts first preseason game in 2012, Carter has had to show his patience in rehabbing to get back on the field.

“It was definitely a tough situation to handle but you have to be professional about it,” Carter said. “You can’t have any hard feelings. You’ve got to go to work and you have to prepare to step in when you’re time is called.”

Carter’s number was called on Sunday afternoon. With the Colts facing a second-and-goal from the Packers three-yard line, Carter was at the top of the I-formation looking for his first carry of the season.

The play-action pass went incomplete but the Colts scored on the following play.

At 238 pounds, Carter knows he can bring an added element to the Colts power rushing attack and he is looking to regain the form of 2011 as his opportunities increase.

“It’s just another experience to grow from,” Carter said of his injury. “My preparation is different. I’m hungrier, not to say I wasn’t hungry before but I’m chopping at the bit to get out there and do well.”


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BALLARD PRODUCING FOR LOADED ROOKIE CLASS

Posted by Kevin Bowen on August 21, 2012 – 8:00 pm

When comparing himself to his other offensive teammates drafted in April’s NFL’s Draft, running back Vick Ballard is flying under the radar.

He wasn’t the No. 1 pick, isn’t part of a rookie tight end tandem and isn’t a wide receiver that is making plays in the return game.

Yet, through two weeks of the preseason, Ballard has made his name known to Colts fans.

Ballard leads Colts running backs with 16 carries for 62 yards and has seen a good amount of time with the first team offense.

“I think I’m doing pretty good but I think I still have a long way to go,” Ballard said. “As far as like making my pre-snap reads, I feel like I can be a lot better at that. As a whole, I think I’ve done pretty well.”

This past Sunday against the Steelers, Ballard saw some extended playing time with running backs Delone Carter and Mewelde Moore sidelined with rib injuries.

The opportunity to take meaningful reps was beneficial to Ballard, who made sure to play within himself even though he was running with the first team.

“I don’t want to try and do too much because that causes you to make a mistake,” Ballard said. “Whenever I have the ball in my hands, I just think of it as playing football. Do what got you here, be consistent.”

Inside the running backs meeting room, Ballard said he has picked the brains of both Moore and starting running back Donald Brown.

During minicamp, head coach Chuck Pagano called Brown the ‘bell cow’ of the running back position but also pointed out that the team would call on more than one running back during the regular season.

Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians’ system seems to fit to Brown’s strengths and Pagano is pleased with what he’s seen out of his starter.

“He’d be the first to tell you from a scheme stand point, it’s basically what he did in college. So he feels very comfortable running the plays we’re running now. So it doesn’t surprise me to see him make the plays that he’s making,” Pagano said.

“Plus I watch him step up and protect on third down and hit these big linebackers from the Steelers last Sunday night and protect his quarterback. So from a protection standpoint, running the football and catching the football out in the backfield, he’s having a great camp and he’s well on his way to having a great year.”

It is the art of pass protecting that most rookie running backs struggle with in adjusting to the NFL.

Ballard now has the opportunity to watch Brown’s work in the pass blocking game and with a little more time, the Colts will have added another weapon to an already productive offense.

“You watch a guy like Vick Ballard run and a guy like Donnie Brown, what he’s been able to do with this new system. There’s some guys that obviously we’ve surrounded Andrew with, offensive linemen that you’ve brought in, the free agent guys are starting to mesh and gel. I feel really good about where we’re at offensively,” Pagano said.


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ARIANS TALKS PRESEAON OPENER, LUCK, BALLARD AND INJURIES

Posted by Kevin Bowen on August 15, 2012 – 9:21 am

The start couldn’t have been scripted much better for offensive coordinator Bruce Arians.

One play. Twelve seconds. Sixty-three yards and a touchdown for the first offensive snap of the 2012 preseason.

“An easy completion to Donald (Brown) but Dwayne Allen made an unbelievable effort block and Anthony Castonzo made a great block. The whole group just executed to perfection. Donald just had to run. It was a nice way to start,” Arians said.

Sunday’s offensive production stayed consistent through all three Colts quarterbacks, as the 38 points scored are the most Indianapolis has scored in the preseason since 1989.

Like any coach striving to get better, Arians is still searching for that complete performance offensively.

“I thought we played fairly fast. Obviously, made some explosive plays but we lacked consistency,” Arians said. “There were so many plays out there to make. (We) didn’t handle some of their blitzes well so we’ve got a lot of improvement to do. We’ve got to run the ball better and each week just continue to improve.”

It’s the running game that Arians was focused on following Tuesday’s practice as the Colts are dealing with a banged up backfield.

The Colts had four healthy running backs during practice on Tuesday and then signed running back Alvester Alexander later in the evening to provide some depth.

Arians has said he wants to see ‘physicality’ out of the running game and he stressed the need for the small things out of his backs.

“Four yards or more, don’t be dancing around and trying to make long runs,” Arians said of his running backs. “Get positive yardage, block linebackers and safeties in pass protection and play all around football. We have quality guys at the position and it’s high competition right now to get guys on the field.”

One player that Arians said will see some extended workload this week is rookie running back Vick Ballard.

With running backs Delone Carter and Mewelde Moore nursing rib injuries, Ballard saw some extra playing time on Sunday against the Rams and his offensive coordinator has liked what he’s seen from the rookie.

“I’ve been really impressed with (Ballard),” Arians said. “I like his pass protection too. I think he’s improving in that area. The sky’s the limit with that kid.”

While Arians expects Ballard to get more action this week, he will be doing it behind a different offensive line.

Offensive guard Mike McGlynn suffered an ankle injury against the Rams and is expected to miss some time.

Finding more than five bodies along the offensive line is a must according to Arians over a taxing 16-game regular schedule.

“You’ve got to have seven guys and if you think you’re just going to play with five that doesn’t happen,” Arians said. “We went to the Super Bowl with seven offensive tackles and four quarterbacks (in Pittsburgh). The next man standing, the next man in line, he jumps in and he plays. There’s no drop off. There’s never an excuse for an injury. If you’re a backup you’re one of the most valuable guys on the team.”

An established, well-oiled running game will go a long way to making things easier for quarterback Andrew Luck.

The rookie had an impressive debut in front of home fans at Lucas Oil Stadium but to his offensive coordinator who has seen him for the better part of the last three months it was nothing he didn’t expect.

“Nothing surprises me about him anymore,” Arians said. “I kind of expect it now and I think it surprised other people. I wouldn’t have anticipated anything else from him.”

 

 

 

 

 


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BALANCED OF RUN AND PASS CRUCIAL TO OFFENSE’S SUCCESS

Posted by Kevin Bowen on August 14, 2012 – 6:21 pm

On an afternoon that will be remembered more for what the Colts did through the air rather than on the ground, 11 different players had a carry on Sunday against the Rams including five getting their first ever NFL rush.

Throughout training camp, the Colts have stressed the importance of establishing the run and keeping a balanced attack.

With 30 pass attempts and 32 rushes that is the type of balance the Colts will be looking for during the regular season.

The Colts have rotated six different running backs in training camp and for a rookie quarterback like Andrew Luck, a ground game you can count on can be your best friend.

“(The running backs) have been great all camp. They’ve showed they have a lot of juice during the game so they’ve been a lot of fun to play with,” Luck said.

In late June, the Colts added some much needed experience to the running back position by signing nine-year veteran Mewelde Moore.

The experience Moore brings to the running back position comes from his last four years of playing under current offensive coordinator Bruce Arians.

It was that familiarity with Arians that brought Moore to Indianapolis.

“I think I have a good idea of what it is he wants to do and what he wants from me. The beauty of it is, it’s a variety of everything,” Moore said. “Being able to do a lot of jobs, a lot of tasks that he asks me to do. I’m more than equipped to be able to provide that. It’s just all about me going out there and doing what I’m being asked to do and execute.”

Moore had a solid first two weeks of training camp but he, along with running back Delone Carter, suffered a rib injury against the Rams on Sunday.

It is unsure how much time the two running backs will miss but that opens the door for more carries among the other backs.

“I mean you kind of hate to get (more reps) like that,” running back Darren Evans said. “Delone (Carter) is one of my good friends on the team and Mewelde’s (Moore) been a big help for me so I hate to see them go down like that. But it does open up opportunity.”

The NFL experience between the other five running backs on the Colts roster adds up to 10 years, just one more than Moore.

Along with his knowledge of Arians’ offense, it’s the other nuances of the running back position that Moore is trying to share with his younger teammates.

“I’ve been playing football for a while and the experience factor is a big key, especially in the third-down packaging, blitzes and recognizing what is going on, being able to give assistance in that type of thing,” Moore said.

Rookie running back Vick Ballard is the youngest player of the group, but he had a solid opener with six carries for 25 yards.

Ballard was a sixth round pick of the Colts in April’s NFL Draft and knows that even though his touches might not be what he had in college, he needs to be the same player that was a 1,000 yard rusher in the Southeastern Conference.

“I want to get the ball and I want to do well but at the same time I don’t want to play outside myself because that’s when you start making mistakes and stuff. Just try and do what got me here,” Ballard said.


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ARIANS TALKS QUARTERBACKS AND RUNNING BACKS

Posted by Kevin Bowen on August 6, 2012 – 7:09 pm

Monday was the day to talk to the coordinators following the Colts afternoon practice.

Here are a few highlights from offensive coordinator Bruce Arians on the quarterback and running backs position.

On how long Andrew Luck will play in Sunday’s preseason game:

“Still up in the air, you know. We want to see how long we want to play that first line and the entire group, so we haven’t really sat down and talked about it yet. We’d like to get in 20 plays, maybe 25. Oh yeah, he needs to play against someone else other than himself and see different coverages and different fronts. We’re looking forward to it.”

On the running back competition among the six on the roster:

“Six good backs, that’s part of the reason I’m anxious to see them and we don’t want our ones going the whole time either. We’ve got to get all those guys in and see what they do and what role they can find. Delone (Carter) did a nice job in his short yardage and goal line period the other day. Donald (Brown)’s had a good camp, (Mewelde Moore)’s had a good camp. Vick (Ballard), I really want to see him in action, see what he’s doing against live bullets. All of the guys have looked pretty solid in the backfield.”

On Mewelde Moore being the go-to-guy, in Pittsburgh, when other running backs got hurt:

“Yeah, it’s funny. He had a bunch of roles. Third down was one. But when, I think it was Willie Parker, got hurt the one year he started, he had 130 (yards) against Cincinnati, 120. He was our goal line runner. We usually put him in the end of the game to run out the clock because he always put the ball where it was suppose to be. It was a great trust thing.”

On running back Deji Karim:

“He’s a speed guy. He brings a ton of speed to the position. His best chance is, you know, obviously kick-returner and homerun hitter in the backfield. We’ll see how he plays between the tackles.”

On quarterback Drew Stanton:

“I’ve seen great improvement. His accuracy has improved a ton, that’s gone along with his knowledge of what we’re trying to get done. He’s had an excellent camp. Every now and then he’ll throw one in there thinking his arm is strong enough and he’ll throw a pick, and just learn from that and don’t do it again. But I’ve been real pleased with him. I feel comfortable if we had to play him that we could win a ball game.”

On the challenges of developing quarterbacks:

“Each and every one is so different. You know, you always say you’d like to get a running game going, boom, boom, boom and run the ball. Well that works nice if you can run the ball and get it into third-and-five or less. If you’re going to put him back there, run it twice, and be in third-and-seven and eight all the time he’s going to get killed. He’s not learning how to throw the football on first-and-ten. I think you still have to be balanced. He has to have a great command of what he’s trying to get done. He has to know his protections because that’s when you get killed, on your hots and your blitzes; especially now with all the zone blitz fires and things that we see. He has to be inside out, up-and-down, on the money on his protections and then building a rapport with his receivers sometimes is a little overrated. We run everything on timing so that part has to be there, especially in the redzone when you’ll know a guy’s subtle moves and stuff. But the protection part of it is the biggest thing in getting ready to play.”


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