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Andrew Luck: "A Thumbs Up"

With one game left before the playoffs, Andrew Luck has 60 minutes to build on one of his top performances of 2013. Agreeing with the notion that Sunday’s outing against Kansas City was one of his best, Luck still wants to keep honing his craft to compete beyond 16 games.





INDIANAPOLIS –Andrew Luck has been schooled to let others ring his bell when it comes to discussing his play.

Moments after leading the Colts to a 23-7 win Sunday in Kansas City, he agreed with a questioner who asked if it had been one of his most complete games. 

Tuesday, he declined to address specifically if he thought his play in 2013 bettered what he did in 2012.

"I'd like to think I've improved," said Luck.  "I think it's sort of hard to step back and say, 'I've done better,' until the season's over when you really assess.  Hopefully, I've improved."

A victory Sunday would match last year's 11-5 record and tie him with Ben Roethlisberger for the second-most starting wins accomplished in the first two years of a career by any player since 1970.

Luck is seven passing yards away from the highest total accomplished by a player over two career-opening seasons, while his 45 touchdowns are fifth-most.

Luck has done it for most the year without Reggie Wayne.  Wayne went down late in the Denver game and had been responsible for 29-to-31 percent of Luck's career completions, yards and touchdowns to that point.

When Wayne exited, he had been targeted 253 times in Luck's first 851 attempts, meaning growth for Luck and others was being thrust into play.

"It probably has forced a little faster growth," said Luck.  "I know I grew a lot with him last year in terms of a football player.  Maybe it forced a little faster growth."

T.Y. Hilton remained a go-to option, though defenses rotated different coverages to hinder quick-strike touchdowns. 

Coby Fleener emerged as well, while fresher faces like Da'Rick Rogers and Griff Whalen have become regular targets.

"I think things have settled down a bit," said Luck, who was 26-of-37 for 241 yards last Sunday while finding nine receivers.  "We're more comfortable with each other.  

"Da'Rick Rogers gets more reps.  He knows where he's going to be.  I know where I need to put the ball for him.  They all do a great job in practice, so it's starting to show up in games."

Luck has upped his completion percentage from 54.1 to 59.5 and is within 22 completions of last year, but with 94 fewer attempts. 

He needs one scoring toss to match last year, but has elevated his rating from 76.5 to 86.1 largely by shaving his interceptions from 18 to nine.

"It's a great question," said Chuck Pagano on how much Luck's growth could be quantified given the change in Luck's weapons.  "It is an offense that also has lost multiple skill players (Dwayne Allen, Ahmad Bradshaw, Vick Ballard).  

"Regardless of who is out there, he's going to find a way to get the job done.  He's got a lot of faith and trust in his teammates, and they stepped up.  He's just one of those guys that's got a great attitude.  He's going to find a way to win.  He wills his team to win.  He's got that 'it' factor."

Luck said he knew ball security was a must this season, given his access to the ball.  His combined turnovers have dropped from 23 to 11.

"Our motto is to not waste plays or beat ourselves, to eliminate friendly fire," said Pep Hamilton, who added ball security was right behind scoring as a priority entering the season.  "Fortunately, he touches the ball on every snap. 

"He's been making good decisions and he has done a good job of managing bad plays.   It's a testament to not only Andrew, but the rest of the guys on the unit.  If we don't beat ourselves, we have a chance to beat anybody we play."

Hamilton said "bean-counters" can look at statistics and draw conclusions that might be faulty, citing big offensive numbers at Cincinnati in a 42-28 loss where the offense had numbers but was a reason the team trailed.

Hamilton says one measuring stick remains when discussing any player's growth.

"The quarterback position is ultimately evaluated upon how many wins and losses you have.  Where we are and the opportunity we have to compete in the post-season, I'd give him an 'A' or a thumbs up," said Hamilton.

PRO BOWL ANNOUNCED FRIDAY –Pro Bowlers will be announced on the NFL Network at 9:00 p.m. Friday.  Robert Mathis and Andrew Luck were among the leaders among fan voting at their positions.

Jerrell Freeman is having a solid year that hopefully draws the attention of players and coaches, who determine two-thirds of the vote.  Said Mathis, "I don't think, I know.  He is a Pro Bowler.  If he's not in the Pro Bowl, it's a crime."

ROSTER MOVES – DT-Jeris Pendleton and CB-Sheldon Price have been added to the active roster.  C-Thomas Austin, DE-Jake McDonough and RB-Tauren Poole were signed to the practice squad.

Pendleton (6-2, 334) was drafted by Jacksonville (D7) in 2012.  Price (6-2, 180) was an undrafted rookie free agent with the Colts in training camp.

PRACTICE REPORT – Did not participate:  DT-Ricky Jean Francois (foot), S-Antoine Bethea (ankle), OG-Mike McGlynn (elbow), S-Sergio Brown (groin), DE-Cory Redding (shoulder); Full Participation:  DE-Robert Mathis (rest), S-LaRon Landry (rest), CB-Darius Butler (quad), OG-Hugh Thornton (neck), CB-Greg Toler (groin), OT-Jeff Linkenbach (quad); OG-Joe Reitz (concussion).

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