Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

August 13, 2012

Colts' new quarterback impressive in exhibition debut


CNHI

— INDIANAPOLIS -- Andrew Luck made one clear mistake in an otherwise glowing preseason debut with the Indianapolis Colts.

And it still was eating at him after the game.

“I feel terrible about that (pass) to Joe (Reitz),” he said, following with a sheepish smile. “I told him I owe him about 20 steak dinners. Any time a lineman gets a chance to catch a touchdown, he deserves it, and I didn’t hold up my end of the bargain. I apologized to him. If the situation ever presents itself again, hopefully I’ll put it right in his belly. Or at least give him a chance to catch it.”

Luck’s high toss to left guard Reitz in the back of the end zone late in the second quarter was one of just six incompletions the No. 1 overall pick threw his exhibition debut Sunday against the St. Louis Rams.

Three others were drops, and the final two came on throwaways as the 22-year-old was running for his life.

Luck finished with 10 completions in 16 attempts for 188 yards and two touchdowns. He wasn’t intercepted or sacked, and he compiled a quarterback rating of 142.7.

In short, he spent 21 offensive snaps in the first half backing up all the praise that has been heaped upon him during the first two weeks of training camp. And this time the bullets were live.

“He knew he was a target,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. “We picked him up off the turf a couple times, but he’s a big, strong, athletic guy, and he can take a hit.”

As impressive as Luck was with his arm, he might have looked even better with his feet. Time and time again, he rolled out away from inconsistent pass protection and kept plays alive. He even scrambled for nine yards on one third-and-15 when the pocket broke down.

He slid, like a veteran, at the end of that run. And that earned him points with Pagano.

“It’s something that we’ve emphasized,” the head coach said. “In college, he’d put that shoulder down and run over most guys. So I was extremely pleased to see him slide. It means he’s listening.”

Luck has drawn nearly constant comparisons to his predecessor in

Indianapolis, four-time NFL MVP Peyton Manning.

And he did little to staunch those comparisons by throwing a 63-yard touchdown pass on his first play from scrimmage. Luck’s dump pass to running back Donald Brown, who accounted for about 60 yards after the catch, reminded many of Manning’s first preseason pass.

On his first throw against Seattle in 1998, Manning hit wide receiver Marvin Harrison for a 48-yard touchdown on a slant.

Luck also threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Austin Collie and led a 13-play, 80-yard drive that was capped by a one-yard Delone Carter touchdown dive.

“He’s going to be a really good player,” Rams head coach Jeff Fisher said. “We knew that before we played him today. The guy’s got that sense.”

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George Bremer is a reporter for The Herald Bulletin in Anderson, Ind.