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Indianapolis Colts


A star at Houston’s Stratford High School, Andrew Luck returns this Sunday as the Colts meet the Texans.





INDIANAPOLIS –The only time Andrew Luck played previously at Reliant Stadium was as a junior when Stratford High School lost in the third round of the state playoffs. 

His second chance there, Sunday's game with the Texans, is ripe with meaning, too.

"It's a huge game for us, a chance to solidify a playoff spot," said Luck.  "The division's not sewn up completely and from our perspective, it's against one of the premier teams in the AFC.  We're going to have to bring our 'A' game."

Luck, who had resided in 13 different houses by age 11, settled in the Houston area around age 12 after his father's career in the World League of American Football and NFL Europe ended. 

Luck thrived at Stratford, passing for 7,139 yards and 53 touchdowns as well as being valedictorian in 2008.

While Luck still has family and friends in the area, it will be a "football" visit as he leads a Colts bunch that has won seven of its last eight games, one that will be gunning for its fourth road and divisional victory. 

"It's fun to be in the thick of things, playing for something meaningful.  I'm trying to enjoy it," said Luck.

Indianapolis can clinch a playoff spot with a victory.  It would be the club's 12th post-season berth since 1999, and a win would mark the club's 10th double-digit victory season since 2002.

Luck has been every bit as successful, too.  With a victory, Luck would join Ben Roethlisberger (13, 2004), Matt Ryan (11, 2008), Joe Flacco (11, 2008) and Kyle Orton (10, 2005) as rookies with 10 starting wins.

Luck has produced six wins in fourth-quarter or overtime fashion, snapping the record he shared with Roethlisberger (2004) and Vince Young (2006). 

He needs 260 passing yards to break Cam Newton's (4,051) year-old NFL rookie record.  Newton snapped the previous rookie mark of 3,739 yards Peyton Manning set with the Colts in 1998.

Interim Head Coach Bruce Arians knew Luck was special like Manning and Roethlisberger, players he has tutored.

"I think our second interview, I knew he could handle the offense," said Arians.  "Peyton (Manning) was pretty prepared but he's (Luck) a combination of all the guys (I've coached).  He's as tough as Timmy Couch, as athletic as Ben and as cerebral as Peyton.  He's got the whole package.  He really is a gym rat and loves the game.

"I always called Peyton a piranha, you just couldn't feed him enough information.  Andrew is the same way.  He is fun.  He is super, and all of them had the same traits, fierce competitors.

"(He's the most advanced) I've been around and personally had my hands on.  We've asked him to do more than anybody I've been around.  He's been able to respond."

With the league rookie passing mark possibly falling in consecutive years, Arians sees the reasons – talent and opportunity.  

"I think the guys who have come in and gotten it are exceptional," said Arians.  "There have been a bunch of rookie quarterbacks in those 13 years who didn't even come close.  I think it's the opportunity that Cam (Newton) had (in Carolina) stepping into an excellent situation with Steve Smith and that running game.  This situation with Reggie (Wayne) and the rest of the group and staying healthy the whole time and playing every snap (has been good)."

Arians has sculpted successful careers and has used different methods to produce results.  It is finding the right approach to tap into the talent.

"I think each (quarterback) is different," said Arians of his pupils.  "They all have the physical tools.  Once you get to know their mental makeup, it's finding the hot buttons.  How do they learn?  Do they learn better from film?  Do they learn better from the blackboard, paper, walk-throughs?  Making sure, like any good school teacher, what your student needs to learn from.  Basically, that's all we are, school teachers.  You teach him individually and collectively."

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