INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts were busy on Wednesday night with the inaugural Pro Bowl draft taking place. Today's news looks at the draft and some of the Colts players who improved during the 2013 season.
Take a look below at the top pieces fromThursday, January 23rd.
Colts' Andrew Luck is a top pick for Pro BowlBy: Stephen Holder, Indy Star
Andrew Luck didn't have to wait long to hear his name called during Wednesday's Pro Bowl draft.
The Indianapolis Colts quarterback was the first player selected in Wednesday night's inaugural Pro Bowl draft, chosen by the team captained by Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders and coached by the Colts' Chuck Pagano.
Sanders suggested he'd had a predraft conversation with Pagano, which might have had a wee bit to do with Luck being such a high priority choice. Luck, who wasn't voted into the Pro Bowl, was named to the game as an alternate after Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson advanced to the Super Bowl. The Pro Bowl will be played Sunday in Honolulu.
Luck initially got good news of another kind when Colts pass-rush specialist Robert Mathis was drafted by Team Sanders. Mathis, who led the NFL with 19.5 sacks this season, was later traded to Team Rice for the Washington Redskins' Brian Orakpo. Pagano will coach Luck but against Mathis.
For Luck, there was some satisfaction in being selected ahead of other quarterbacks like Cam Newton and Philip Rivers.
"I'm very happy to be here," he said during the NFL Network broadcast. "Probably every player is deserving of a No. 1 pick in this game. But I'm happy to be a part of Prime Time (Sanders). . . and the Colts staff."
Several Colts experienced breakout seasonsBy: Phil Richards, Indy StarRichards looks at a handful of Colts who improved during the 2013 season and how this "down" time helped that progressed.
"I think each (offseason) is going to be a step up. That's how I see my career playing out," Castonzo said.
"It started this offseason," Hilton echoed. "Me, (Luck), Reggie and (LaVon) Brazill got together and we worked out in Miami (Wayne's offseason home). The chemistry started growing from there."
To that end, Pagano and his coaches have given every player a position-specific offseason prescription. In addition to the standard weight and speed work, every player has been assigned particular skills drills, things like footwork, back-pedaling and lateral movement, pass sets, leverage and route running.
Incremental improvement of as little as two, three or five percent over a range of skills adds up to meaningful, and sometimes extraordinary, gains.
"You want to grow as a player," Freeman said. "I know last year I had all those tackles, but I didn't have as many impactful plays as I wanted to. As you get seasoned, you try to bring more to your game."