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Posted: 15th August 2019 by linchao in Allgemein
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Andrew Luck’s health was Indianapolis‘ biggest question the past two years.Halfway through his comeback season Youth J’Marcus Webb Jersey , the star quarterback looks like his old self and the numbers suggest he’s actually playing better.Luck’s strong return has helped the Colts win back-to-back games for the first time in nearly two years and they head into the bye weekend full of momentum and plenty of hope.“He made some incredible plays. I mean some incredible plays, conversions on third downs, plays that he shouldn’t make, plays that normal quarterbacks don’t make,” first-year coach Frank Reich said, describing Luck’s impressive game Sunday at Oakland.Many wondered if Luck could ever regain the form that had many calling him the league’s best young quarterback before Indy took him with the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2012.He exceeded the hype by leading the Colts to playoff appearances in each of his first three seasons and earning Pro Bowl selections all three years, too.Then came the injuries and the losses. Luck hurt his right shoulder early in the 2015 season and wound up missing nine games — the last seven with a lacerated kidney. He sat out one game in 2016 with a concussion and missed the entire 2017 season after having surgery for a partially torn labrum in his throwing shoulder.But he’s answered the critics with a solid first half.Indy (3-5) needs one more win to match last season’s victory total and faces the second-easiest schedule over the second half. They’re two games out of the AFC South lead with five division games remaining and Luck getting even stronger.He is 225 of 342 with 2,187 yards, 23 touchdowns — a pace to set career highs in each category including completion rate (65.8 percent). He’s also flirting with the best rating of his career at 96.2. He had a 96.4 in 2016.Numbers only tell part of the tale, though.Luck has done it despite losing top receiver T.Y. Hilton for two games with a hamstring injury, Pro Bowl tight end Jack Doyle for five games with an injured hip and five different starting lineups on the offensive line.“You’re returning from an injury, you’re learning a new system, you’ve got T.Y. Hilton and some receivers hurt and you’re breaking in some new linemen — it’s not going to be as easy as people think,” Raiders coach Jon Gruden said before last weekend’s game. “I’ve got a lot of respect for what he has done in this league and what his capabilities are.”An improving cast could make Luck & Co. even tougher to contend with.From 2012-17, Colts running backs topped the 100-yard mark just four times. Last week, Marlon Mack became Indy’s first back with consecutive 100-yard games since Joseph Addai in 2007.The revamped offensive line has allowed just 10 sacks, a stark contrast to the 156 times Luck went down in his first 70 starts. In fact, Luck hasn’t been sacked in three games — the longest stretch since he left Stanford.Part of the explanation is Reich’s philosophical change Joe Haeg Jersey Stitched , asking Luck to make quicker decisions.That, too, has showed in the numbers.His completion rate and rating against defenders within 1 yard of a receiver have jumped from 25.9 percent and a 45.0 rating in 2016 to 36.0 and 72.5 this season.And while his throws over 20 yards have declined from 2016 to 2018, his rating on throws between 11 and 20 yards has gone from 99.0 to 106.0.The one bugaboo continues to be interceptions. Luck has thrown eight this season, putting him on a pace to throw more than he has in all but two seasons. But he’s thrown five in the past six games and none in four of those six.“No one on this team is going to go out with a sort of harness on them and say you can’t go play full speed,” Luck said recently. “I think our coaches do a great job of allowing us to play free and fast and loose, but within that, I guess at the same time you have to play disciplined.”Where would the Colts be if Luck had stayed healthy?Nobody truly knows.Yes, he would have reached 20,000 yards passing sooner. The Colts may not have missed the playoffs each of the past three seasons. His progression may have been a little steadier, and all those pesky questions about his arm may never have been an issue.But, for now, the Colts are just happy to have Luck back, playing well.“When you have the quarterback that we have there is an expectation that we have to score points,” Reich said. “Everybody in this building knows we have an elite quarterback.” INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard reverted to his old free-agent playbook. He re-signed his own players first.Instead of making a big first-day splash, he barely made a ripple on the second day. And he’s probably not finished yet.As the first big wave of free agency signings were announced Wednesday, Ballard made two under-the-radar moves — re-signing backup cornerback Chris Milton to a one-year deal and bringing back starting cornerback Pierre Desir with a three-year deal — before signing former Carolina receiver Devin Funchess to a one-year deal Thursday.It’s all part of the grand plan.“We have a very strict criterion of what we want to bring in,” Ballard said recently. “We want players that want to get better Youth Joe Haeg Jersey , want to be great, want to be a part of the team, that are willing to sacrifice sometimes their individual stats for the betterment of winning and being a good teammate. If they fit into that criterion, absolutely, they’ll fit in.”After taking some risks last season, Ballard is betting on Funchess, Carolina’s second-round pick in 2015. At 6-foot-4, 225 pounds, he gives Andrew Luck a bigger receiver than he’s worked with in the past.And if Funchess replicates what he did in 2017, when he caught 63 passes for 840 yards and eight touchdowns, he could emerge as the perfect complement to three Pro Bowl pass-catchers already on the roster: receiver T.Y. Hilton and tight ends Eric Ebron and Jack Doyle.Last year, though, Funchess regressed. He had 44 receptions for 549 yards and four TDs and reinforced his reputation for drops. So Ballard reportedly gave Funchess a $10 million deal that could go up to as much as $13 million.“I think the Colts are a great fit and I think they’re ready to take that next step,” Funchess said Thursday during a conference call. “I think if we win the Super Bowl, everything will take care of itself.”Ballard has made this journey before.A year ago, he gambled on Ebron, the Detroit Lions’ underachieving first-round pick from 2014. Ebron wound up catching more touchdown passes in 2018 than any tight end in the league and made his first Pro Bowl appearance.Not every move pays off, though. Ballard also signed Ryan Grant Devin Funchess Jersey Stitched , the Washington Redskins’ 2014 fifth-round pick, last year. Indy expected Grant would emerge as the No. 2 receiver. Instead, Grant’s playing time steadily dwindled.Now, Ballard is at it again, this time with Funchess — though it’s not a terribly risky move.The Colts went into free agency with the most cap space in the league and if Funchess doesn’t work out, the Colts could let him walk away next year and recoup all of their cap room — just like they did with Grant.But the Colts’ more important moves might have come before free agency opened Wednesday.Kicker Adam Vinatieri, the league’s career scoring leader, signed a one-year deal worth $3.875 million in January. Right guard Mark Glowinski agreed to a three-year, $16.2 million deal in February — a move that keeps Indy’s offensive line intact after allowing a league-low 18 sacks in 2018.Last week, versatile defensive tackle Margus Hunt decided to stay in Indy after the best season of his career. His two-year deal is worth $9 million. On Wednesday, Ballard brought back Desir for three years at $25 million and Milton, a key backup and special teams player. Desir recorded 79 tackles in 12 starts last season.And Ballard has said he would like to keep oft-injured Clayton Geathers — if he can.“We are going to make some tweaks to our program internally, but our mission will never change,” Ballard said. “Everything we do matters. Our building understands that.”100<button class=“view-gallery“>View Gallery</button> Gallery:View from the sidelines: NFL cheerleaders 2018Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports | Raj Mehta