Angerer suffers injury
Colts linebacker Pat Angerer left the preseason game against the Rams early on Sunday with a foot injury. Coach Chuck Pagano said Angerer's foot was in a boot and that he will have an MRI on Monday to determine the damage.
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INDIANAPOLIS – That settles it then. Andrew Luck needs major work on hitting the open offensive lineman.
There was Indianapolis Colts left guard Joe Reitz in the end zone, no doubt hearing soundtrack music from NFL Films in his head, waiting for Luck to hit him with the surprise touchdown. The pass was slightly off the mark.
“I owe him about 20 steak dinners,” Luck said.
And with that, I've covered the first preseason game flaws shown by Luck in his Colts debut.
He wasn't perfect, perhaps, in a 38-3 win over the St. Louis Rams at Lucas Oil Stadium. But he was close, and he was more than a little Peyton-esque. Just like Peyton Manning in his 1998 preseason debut, Luck threw a touchdown pass on his first play, a little dump pass to Donald Brown, who Usain Bolted 63 yards to the end zone.
I'll have to admit. I thought it would take more than one snap before being amazed by something Luck does.
It was just like Peyton, a phrase Luck may tire of but Colts fans would love if the comparisons become legitimate. Manning hit a slant pass to Marvin Harrison for a touchdown in his first rookie preseason pass.
“I think Clyde (Christensen, quarterbacks coach) told me that about a week ago, as a joke, no-pressure kind of joke,” Luck said. “It was probably the easiest touchdown pass I've ever thrown in my life, a three-yard pass to Donald and he does the rest of the work. I guess it's coincidence. Funny, huh?”
Luck went on to complete 10 of 16 passes for 188 yards and two touchdowns. Of those six incompletions, three were drops by receivers. Two were essentially thrown away on purpose. He looked nothing like a rookie.
In the spirit of maintaining perspective, the Rams played like one of the worst teams assembled since the end of leather helmets. All three Colts quarterbacks engineered drives, with Drew Stanton completing 8 of 11 passes and Chandler Harnish all three of his attempts, including a touchdown.
But even taking the Rams' paper-mache defense into consideration, Luck surpassed expectations of everyone except the coaches and teammates who watch him every day in practice. Luck's grasp of the offense, his sense of where his receivers are on the field, and his sixth sense of when the pass rush is closing in were all on display.
After a 2011 season of underwhelming play by Colts backup quarterbacks, Luck's performance evoked Manning's ability to bump everyone up a notch.
“He's smart, (he's) got that sense,” Rams coach Jeff Fisher said. “We had unblocked rushers twice, and he got out of there and avoided the sack by spinning out. …He's got mobility. He's got arm strength. Coach (Bruce) Arians has done a great job with him thus far in the offense.”
Luck led the Colts to three touchdowns in four possessions. On the one series where the Colts didn't score, Luck showed mobility and his soaking in of training-camp instruction by scrambling and sliding before taking a hit. Colts coach Chuck Pagano said Luck would have put his shoulder down when he was at Stanford, and probably plowed over a defender.
“I was extremely pleased to see him slide,” Pagano said. “It means he's listening.”
Luck listens. Luck studies. Luck works repetition after repetition. There's no denying that, as a son of a quarterback – again, just like Manning – he understands the need for the daily grind. He's confident on the field, somewhat self-deprecating in postgame interview sessions. You get the feeling watching Luck play, and then watching him handle everything outside the field, that he was a professional before he was officially a professional.
The special players rise to the moment. This was a mini-moment – the first preseason game, hardly a watershed event – but Luck lived up to some over-the-top hype.
“I realize, like all of the guys in the locker room realize, that this is a preseason game and let's not get too excited about anything because nobody goes back and looks at the preseason record for anything,” Luck said. “But to get out here and put some good stuff on film is definitely (good).”
Luck connected with Austin Collie for his other touchdown and made big completions to T.Y. Hilton and LaVon Brazill.
The man who could be his most reliable receiver, Reggie Wayne, saw only one pass come his way. And that was while Luck was under duress, with the pass essentially being a quick throw-away.
That's OK with Wayne. He prefers his passes during the regular season, when it counts.
“We see every day what he's capable of doing,” Wayne said. “He understands the game. He knows what to do. Watching him out in practice, it seems like things are going slow for him and he can come out and pick things up.”
The Colts under Tony Dungy and Jim Caldwell made it a habit not to get too worked up over the preseason scoreboard. They saved the wins for the regular season (last year notwithstanding). Pagano and his coaching staff take a different view. Every game is worth winning, even if they don't really count.
“(Our) fans lost some good players, lost a lot of favorite players from the previous teams,” Wayne said. “We've got to give them something to sit back and smile about. I hope that's a step in the right direction.”
Luck's play will be dissected and overanalyzed all this week, leading up to a road trip next Sunday to take on the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are not the Rams.
Most of all, Luck's play will be celebrated. There's hope in the air in Indy, along with some expertly thrown footballs.