The Colts offense had 48 dropbacks (45 throws and three sacks) against the Bears, a stat that Arians hopes decreases in Week 2.
“I don’t care what team you are, in the National Football League, once you get back there over 40 times, (Luck’s) going to get hit,” Arians said.
“They (quarterbacks) all do. It’s just what kind of hits are they? Are they free guys or are they just whooping somebody, pinning their ears back, that kind of thing. When you get stuck in that, you’ve just got to battle your butt off, and do the best you can.”
On 48 of those dropbacks, Luck targeted wide receiver Reggie Wayne 18 times.
It’s no surprise to Arians that a rookie quarterback like Luck would look for someone with Wayne’s pedigree.
“He’s a great player. He’s a good football player no matter where you put him,” Arians said of Wayne. “I think he’s relishing being where he’s at, being able to play all over the field, made multiple positions. I think Andrew likes him too so he should flourish in this offense.”
For the first time since early in his 12-year NFL career, Wayne is now moving around the Colts offense and had a lot of his nine-catch, 135-yard effort out of the slot position against the Bears.
Luck has said that he’s just looking for the open guy and not necessarily keying on finding Wayne each play.
It’s the days leading up to game day that Arians believes has made Wayne into one of the game’s finest, and most reliable receivers.
“Reggie knows where to go. He trusts that he knows where to go. That usually happens on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday,” Arians said.
“On Sunday you’re going to throw to that guy. He’s the steady force in Andrew’s diet of OTAs, training camp and everything. I wouldn’t be surprised if that ball goes towards him again.”
Tags: Andrew Luck, bruce arians, Reggie Wayne
Posted in Colts Blog
It’s the phase of the game that is rarely talked about, yet plays a vital role in a team’s success.
When it comes to the special team aspect of the Colts team, this offseason saw an added emphasis in improving those units.
If Week 1 is any indication than the coverage units are ready for a successful 2012 campaign.
The Colts downed two of there first three punts inside the five-yard line against the Bears with the initial punt leading to an interception returned for a touchdown on the following play.
“That’s something we practice all the time,” special teams coordinator Marwan Maalouf said of downing the football inside the 10. “We’re stressing field position. The more field our defense has behind them (the better). That starts to maybe turn into turnovers for them with a short field.”
Both of those punts were downed by second-year safety Joe Lefeged and he realizes the importance of the ‘third’ phase of the game.
“It felt good, especially because we all know that special teams is an important part of the game,” Lefeged said. “To make a play like that it shifts the momentum in our favor.”
Last season, Lefeged was a mainstay on the Colts special teams while also returning kicks.
While he isn’t returning kicks this season, Maalouf still considers him a very valuable asset to the special teams unit.
“He’s somebody that we’ve been expecting a lot of things out of,” Maalouf said. “He’s just got to keep building on it because the more he does, the more other teams are going to start keying on him.”
Both Lefeged and Maalouf gave a lot of the punt coverage credit to punter Pat McAfee.
On Sunday, McAfee had two punts downed inside the five-yard line to go along with punts of 63, 57 and 54 yards.
Only one of his five punts was able to be returned against the Bears and it’s a two-way street between punter and coverage units for a successful special teams play.
“Pat is a great punter and I know where that ball is going to be. I know where he is going to put it,” Lefeged said. “You get a peak at the ball a little bit when you’re running down the field, if you beat the controllers.”
After having to deal with Bears returner Devin Hester last week, the Colts will once again have their hands full with Vikings returner Percy Harvin.
In his four seasons in the NFL, Harvin has returned four kicks for a touchdown.
Maalouf knows his coverage unit has another task to deal with on Sunday and will count on No. 1’s right leg to help neutralize Harvin.
“Having McAfee doing the kickoffs is huge,” Maalouf said. “He’s one of our best coverage players with his ability to kickoff the ball high and deep.”
Tags: Joe Lefeged, Marwan Maalouf, pat mcafee
Posted in Colts Blog
No matter who joins quarterback Andrew Luck on the field this Sunday, the signal caller wants the offense to get off to a better start.
In helping to do that, Luck is expected to have a pair of receivers back in the fold against the Vikings.
Head coach Chuck Pagano announced on Wednesday that wide receivers Austin Collie (concussion) and T.Y. Hilton (shoulder) both have been cleared to play after missing last week’s season opener.
Collie has been out since the second week of the preseason with a concussion but was full-go at practice on Wednesday.
If Collie does return to the lineup, Luck will be getting a very reliable target that caught three passes for 45 yards including a 23-yard touchdown in the preseason opener.
Luck and Collie frequently found each other during training camp and the receiver provides a veteran presence in a relatively young receiving corps.
Entering his fourth NFL season, Collie has caught at least 50 passes and had over 500 yards receiving each season in the league.
While Collie’s presence on the field will be felt in the passing game, Hilton’s return could be felt in several different areas.
Hilton is listed as a possible option for punt and kick returns and caught nine passes for 116 yards and a touchdown in three preseason games.
He was used all over the field during his career at Florida International University scoring multiple touchdowns via the catch, the ground, kick returns and punt returns.
The potential of adding those two pieces to an offense that was second in the AFC in passing in Week 1 would be a huge asset.
Both Luck and head coach Chuck Pagano pointed to the importance of a fast start in helping keep the home crowd into the game while allowing for a more balanced offense.
”Looking to last week, I think a quick start would have been converting a couple of those third downs early and putting a drive together whether that means scoring a touchdown, getting a field goal. Putting a drive together offensively (early) is something we’ve got to do,” Luck said.
Tags: Andrew Luck, austin collie, chuck pagano, T.Y. Hilton
Posted in Colts Blog