Thursday, December 6, 2012
Colts rookies trying to make most of 2nd chances
(Eds: Updates. With AP Photos.)
By MICHAEL MAROT
AP Sports Writer
INDIANAPOLIS -- Andrew Luck is getting a crash course in rematch etiquette.
The man who seemingly did it all in college never played the same team twice in one season until he jumped to the NFL. On Sunday, he'll get a second chance at playing a team twice when Tennessee visits Lucas Oil Stadium.
"It's different," the rookie quarterback said in Week 10 leading up to the Colts' second game against Jacksonville. "It's interesting when you go back and watch before."
Like his successor, Peyton Manning, Luck spends most of his time scouring game film for a couple of things: Mistakes and finding ways to beat defenses.
Luck is hardly alone in the film room. With one of the NFL's youngest teams, the Colts (8-4) have one of the most studious rookie classes, too.
Indianapolis drafted tight ends Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen in the second and third rounds, receivers T.Y. Hilton and LaVon Brazill in the third and sixth rounds, and running back Vick Ballard in the fifth.
Each has had a major hand in this season's turnaround from 2-14. Brazill and Fleener each caught a touchdown pass in Sunday's comeback at Detroit, Hilton already has had four 100-yard games, Allen needs seven catches in the final four games to set the Colts' rookie record for receptions by a tight end, and it was Ballard's backward, twisting flip that gave the Colts their first road win of the season at Tennessee on Oct. 28.
Now they'll have to do it all over again against a Titans team that hasn't forgotten that overtime loss.
The Colts expect Tennessee (4-8) to make some corrections, and Indianapolis has some adjustments in the works, too.
"What you learn is that it's all about us," Allen said. "You can watch the film and see how they've progressed since that game, but at the end of the day, it's all about you and how did you do with your performance."
In the first contest against Tennessee, Luck was 26 of 38 for 297 yards with one TD and one interception. Indy also rushed for a season-high 171 yards and Ballard's highlight-making dive won the game in overtime.
Interim head coach Bruce Arians expects even more from his team this time now that they have gotten up close and personal with the Titans on the field and have spent countless hours breaking down those tapes since then.
Arians remembers that's the way it was with Manning in his rookie season, too.
"The second time through the division his rookie year was night and day," Arians said before the Jacksonville game, describing Manning. "It would be the same thing I would hope once (Luck) can study himself against an opponent and play them again, he should be better."
The difference between the first and second games against Jacksonville was noticeable.
Luck's completion percentage jumped from 47.8 percent in Week 2 to a season-high 69.2 percent in the rematch. His quarterback rating went from 75.7 to 80.1, despite throwing two fewer touchdowns and the same number of interceptions (one). Plus, the Colts won.
Could it happen again this week against the Titans?
The Colts are hopeful.
"I think we made a lot of mistakes, but we realize it's a 60-minute game," Luck said of last week's performance against Detroit. "We realize we'll have a chance at the end if we flush that out and you do everything you can to win."
NOTES: Arians said running back Donald Brown and safety Tom Zbikowski would both miss Sunday's game because of undisclosed knee injuries. ... Sunday's game is sold out and will be televised locally. ... Head coach Chuck Pagano has finished his third and final round of chemotherapy, but it is still uncertain whether he will attend his third straight home game. Pagano has been on an indefinite leave since being diagnosed with leukemia Sept. 26. ... The Colts signed linebacker Jamaal Westerman to the active roster, activated offensive guard Seth Olsen from injured reserve and have placed linebacker Justin Hickman on injured reserve.
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