INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts will be back on the practice field this afternoon in a condensed work week. Today's news looks at Andrew Luck's improvement, the one-and-done mentality in the playoffs and the Chiefs big-play threat in Jamaal Charles.
Take a look below at the top pieces fromWednesday, January 1st.**Luck adjusts, has a better second season**By: Mike Wells, ESPN.com
Despite losing a handful of offensive starters including his top receiver in Reggie Wayne, Andrew Luck has improved in 2013.
"It's never easy to lose your go-to guy," Colts veteran backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said. "I really think the setup we had here was healthy. Other guys had to step up and fill the void."
Luck's passing yards are down from his rookie season because the Colts put an emphasis on the running game. But the decision-making skills he displayed during the season give validation on why he was a better quarterback this season. Luck improved his completion percent from 54.1 percent to 60.2 percent to go with 23 touchdowns and only nine interceptions. Peyton Manning has only had one season in his 16-year career where he had less than 10 interceptions.
"Regardless of who is out there, he's going to find a way to get the job done," Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. "He's not going to walk in here because we lost this guy, that guy and whatever. He's just one of those guys that has a great attitude and it doesn't matter what the circumstances are. He's going to find a way to win the football game and he wills his team to win games. He's a great competitor that way. He's got that 'it' factor."
**What makes the playoffs different? ‘The finality’**By: Mike Chappell, Indy Star
Chappell looks at how the intensity is ratcheted it up once the playoffs arrive.
It's Colts vs. Chiefs II Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium in a wild-card playoff game.
But the sequel, three weeks after the original, differs from the Colts' dominant 23-7 win at Arrowhead Stadium. The most significant game of the regular season pales in comparison to anything the playoffs have to offer.
That's what struck Colts quarterback Andrew Luck as he reflected on his NFL postseason debut, a 24-9 loss at Baltimore last January. He had been involved in several epic outings at Stanford, but the NFL playoff game was different.
"Yes, especially after the game, after losing,'' he said. "The finality of it all. The sort of one-and-done, win-or-go-home."
"I think that's special. That's what makes the NFL playoffs awesome."
**Charles waiting to make playoff impact**By: Adam Teicher, ESPN.com
Jamaal Charles will play in his second career playoff game on Sunday trying to snap a Chiefs playoff drought that dates back 20 years.
This season, he's the engine that drives their offense. Charles is Kansas City's leading rusher, pass receiver and touchdown-maker.
The Chiefs will lean on Charles on Saturday more than they did in 2010 against Baltimore.
"I know what's at stake," he said. "I really want this. I really want to go far. If I have to put the team on my back, I will. I'm really excited to take [on] this role."
The Chiefs will certainly give the ball more to Charles than they did in their 23-7 loss to the Colts two weeks ago at Arrowhead Stadium. Between rushing and receiving, Charles got the ball just 18 times.
"I never question the game plan," he said. "I know it's going to be a load on me this week."