As impressive as Indianapolis Colts rookie quarterback Andrew Luck has been during the preseason and through the first two games of the regular season, there's one area of his game that is still developing.
While coach Chuck Pagano and offensive coordinator Bruce Arians appreciate Luck's ability to move around in the pocket and extend plays, or being able to scramble for first downs to keep offensive drives alive, knowing when to go down or when to throw the ball away is crucial.
A case in point. Late in the fourth quarter of last week's home opener with Minnesota, Luck dropped back to pass on 3rd-and-eight on the Colts' 38-yard line. Finding nobody open, he scrambled around in the pocket and continued to drop deeper behind the line of scrimmage.
The result of the play was not a good one. Luck was sacked for a 22-yard loss by Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen, giving Indianapolis a 4th-and 27 at its own 16-yard line. A line drive punt by Pat McAfee and a 12-yard return gave Minnesota a 1st-and-10 at the Colts' 47-yard line.
Nine plays later, Minnesota quarterback Christian Ponder flipped a 6-yard game-tying touchdown pass to tight end Kyle Rudolph.
Indianapolis wound up winning 23-20 on the strength of a 53-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri with 0:08 left in the game. While Luck engineered the game-winning drive, moving the football 45 yards in four plays, the memory of the yardage lost on that crucial fourth-quarter sack has remained.
Pagano said that it was a learning experience for his young signal caller, who otherwise has shown good pocket awareness.
“Get out of bounds, slide, throw it away. All those things are being taught on a daily basis. You love a guy that can extend plays, but much like Ben [Roethlisberger] in Pittsburgh you see when you do it too much and you try to extend too long, those hits add up," the Colts coach said.
"We always talk about getting hits on the quarterback, you love sacks. But the hits add up through the course of the game and the course of a season. So we’ll continue to make a point of emphasis with Andrew as far as extending plays and getting first downs when he can get first downs, but certainly we’d love him to get out of bounds, slide, throw the ball away whenever possible.”
Arians, who coached Roethlisberger with the Steelers, agrees.
"He [Luck] has a great feel for sliding, getting out of harm's way and not taking any shots. Andrew has a great feel in the pocket. He doesn't get the credit for the athlete he is. He's a phenomenal athlete. John Elwayish. He's big, strong and can move," the Colts assistant said.
"And Ben's the same way. He was uncanny at it. But [Luck's] not going to take shots. He knows when to go down. We've just got get people to make sure they're not hitting him when he's sliding. I think he has a real good feel for who's around and when to get down, when to get out of bounds."
-- Center Samson Satele (knee) and offensive guard/center Mike Mcglynn both saw limited work during Thursday's practice. Wide receiver Austin Collie (concussion) and offensive tackle Winston Justice (concussion) was able to fully participate in the workout.
Defensive end Cory Redding (triceps), meanwhile, did not practice Thursday. He saw limited work on Wednesday
Outside linebacker Dwight Freeney (ankle) has not practiced since he was hurt in the first quarter of the Chicago game in the regular-season opener. He is not expected to be available for Sunday's game with Jacksonville.
Offensive guard Joe Reitz (knee) sat out Thursday's workout. He has only practiced once since the team returned from training camp. Reitz is not expected to be available for Sunday's game with Jacksonville.
Game sold out -- The Colts had 500 tickets remaining as of Wednesday afternoon. By Thursday morning, as expected, Sunday's game with Jacksonville was declared a sellout.
Indianapolis officials, however, do anticipate some visiting team returns from the Jaguars. Those returned tickets do not count against lifting the television blackout. They will be made available through normal channels.
Tickets are available while they last at the Lucas Oil Stadium ticket office, Ticketmaster Ticket Centers, charge-by-phone at (800) 745-3000 or at www.ticketmaster.com.