News From Terre Haute, Indiana

October 26, 2012

Arians pleased with Luck's development thus far

Tom James
Tribune-Star Correspondent

INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Colts interim coach/offensive coordinator Bruce Arians doesn’t follow all the different ways of rating NFL quarterbacks.

“Not at all. There are so many quarterback ratings now and everybody’s got their own. I just judge the [quarterback] that we have and how [rookie Andrew Luck is] playing,” Arians said earlier this week.

Luck has had his ups and downs so far this season, although there have been far more positives than negatives. He has completed 134 of 250 passes (54 percent) for 1,674 yards with seven touchdowns and seven interceptions. And the team has a 3-3 won-loss record.

His NFL passer rating is 72.3. But he has thrown for the second-most passing yards in league history through the first six games of a season. He is the first rookie in NFL history to pass for over 1,500 yards and record three wins in his team’s first six games. And he is the second rookie to throw for over 300 yards in three of their first four games.

In comparison, Washington’s Robert Griffin III — the second overall pick in last spring’s draft behind Luck — has completed 133 of 189 passes (60 fewer passing attempts) for 1,601 yards, seven touchdowns and three interceptions. His passer rating is 101.8. The Redskins, however, are currently 3-4 on the year.

According to ESPN’s somewhat-complex quarterback rating system, Luck is sixth in the league with a score of 73.0. Griffin III is eighth at 71.8.

Arians likes the way Luck is developing in the team’s quarterback friendly offensive system.

“If you go back and look at my history, I throw it deep more than anybody in the league. We do spread people out. We think we have everything, but we also use our tight ends and backs a lot to help our offensive line,” he pointed out.

“We want to throw the football to the guys that are getting paid to catch it and hand it to the guys who are paid to run it. Not that they’re not quality receivers, [rookie running back] Vick [Ballard] obviously had a big play on the empty backfield when he caught the ball and got 19 or 20 yards [in last Sunday’s 17-13 win over Cleveland]. But we’re not a West Coast offense by any means.

Luck was a quick study when it came to learning the Colts’ offense. Now it’s all about putting that offense in the best possible position as each game progresses.

“I think I’m learning when to throw the ball the away, when to take a sack, when not to force a ball, and these are something that I’m nowhere near perfect on and will continue to learn and hopefully I’ll get better. I have a better grasp for certain situations of games,” he explained.

“It’s four minutes and we have the ball and we are trying to run the clock out or we have a minute-and-a-half left and you’re down four at the end of the game, situational football. I think I’ve learned a little bit more about the playbook, maybe a little bit more about opposing defenses, still a long way to go.”

Finding a comfort level remains elusive sometimes.

“I think I’m getting more comfortable in certain situations and maybe that doesn’t kin to slowing down. I think my thought process is maybe smoother now and I see this and I know this is coming and I know I need to here with my read. I would say that process is getting smoother,” Luck said.

• Injury list — Sitting out Thursday’s practice were inside linebacker Pat Angerer (foot), cornerback Darius Butler (shoulder), defensive tackle Fili Moala (knee), and outside linebacker Robert Mathis (knee).

Offensive guard Joe Reitz (knee), outside linebacker Dwight Freeney (ankle), nose tackle Martin Tevaseu (ankle), quarterback Andrew Luck (knee), running back Donald Brown (knee), defensive end Cory Redding (knee), offensive tackle Winston Justice (ankle), and nose tackle Antonio Johnson (illness) all fully participated in the workout.

Luck wore an elastic sleeve on his right knee during the practice. Due to NFL rules, if a player undergoes treatment by trainers, no matter now minor, the player must be placed on the team’s injury list. Luck is fine and will start against Tennessee on Sunday.