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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — When Andrew Luck gazes over
10-30-2019, 10:08 AM,
Post: #1
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — When Andrew Luck gazes over
Cincinnati’s defense Sunday , he’ll see some of the league’s top pass rushers.Defensive tackle Geno Atkins often gets the interior push. Michael Johnson, Carlos Dunlap and Carl Lawson routinely bring the outside pressure.So with Luck making his first start in more than 20 months, the Cincinnati Bengals hope to make life miserable as the Colts quarterback re-acclimates himself to regular-season life in the NFL.“My biggest concern, they have a really good front seven,” Luck said. “It’s always a tough defense. Geno Atkins is a heck of a player, (Carlos) Dunlap on the edge, got guys that can cover. So it’s always a challenge.”Circumstances could make this season opener even more challenging for Indy.Longtime left tackle Anthony Castonzo missed the entire preseason with a hamstring injury and was limited in practice earlier this week. Denzelle Good, who appeared to be the favorite at right tackle, hasn’t played since hurting his left knee in the third preseason game.Then there’s rookie left guard Quenton Nelson, the No. 6 pick. He’s likely to draw the assignment on Atkins, and there’s no assurance second-year running back Marlon Mack will return from a hamstring injury that has kept him off the field since the preseason opener. If Mack can’t play Tyquan Lewis Jersey , rookies Jordan Wilkins and Nyheim Hines may be asked to help protect Luck, one of the league’s highest-paid players.No, it’s not an ideal start for a quarterback who missed the 2017 season while recovering from surgery on his throwing shoulder.But the Colts may not have a choice.“We will do everything we can do to neutralize the pass rush — no matter what five guys are up front,” new coach Frank Reich said. “And that will be No. 1 on the pass game agenda each week: How do you protect the passer?”The Bengals have other concerns after losing eight straight in Indy.They’re expecting to face a crowd eager to welcome back Luck and capable of making enough noise to slow down the pass rushers.“I think everybody there is going to be excited,” Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. “We know the kind of player that he is. I guess if you’re going to play Andrew Luck, you’d rather be playing him now than Week 12.”NEW STRIPESThe Bengals debut their redesigned offense under coordinator Bill Lazor after giving a few previews during the preseason. They made more of an effort to get big plays, something missing last season. Andy Dalton looked comfortable with the new playbook in his limited preseason time, completing 71 percent of his passes with four touchdowns, one interception — the receiver fell on his route — and a passer rating of 130.9.“I feel real comfortable with the way I played,” Dalton said.DOUBLE DOSELast year, in Philadelphia Ryan Grant Color Rush Jersey , Reich took advantage of a plethora of solid tight ends.Expect more of the same this season in Indy.The Colts signed free agent Eric Ebron, Detroit’s first-round pick in 2014, to help stretch the field as Pro Bowler Jack Doyle continues to exploit the middle. Indy also has former basketball player Eric Swoope and Ryan Hewitt, a former Bengal, on the roster. And all four could play Sunday.NEW O-LINEThe offensive line was the biggest issue in Cincinnati’s offense finishing last in the league in 2017.There’s only one returning starter — left guard Clint Boling — as the unit’s been overhauled.It’ll be the first time that left tackle Cordy Glenn, rookie center Billy Price, right guard Alex Redmond and right tackle Bobby Hart play together in a regular-season game.RECORD WATCHAdam Vinatieri’s 23rd NFL season could be the most remarkable of his career.The four-time Super Bowl champion needs seven field goals to break Morten Andersen’s record (565), five field goals from the 40-49-yard range to take over the top spot from Gary Anderson and 58 points to break Andersen’s mark of 2,544.How has he done it? By keeping things in perspective.“You definitely want to start off on the right note,” he said. “We know how important it is, we know how much our owner wants to win this first game. We know how important it is to win at home in front of our home crowd , all the above.”NO BURFICTFor the fourth straight season, the Bengals will be without linebacker Vontaze Burfict at the outset.He missed the first six games of 2015 while recovering from a knee injury and has been suspended for the start of each of the past three.This time, Burfict will miss the first four games for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancers. For Indianapolis Colts’ fans, the return of Andrew Luck to the field this season would have been enough within itself to have optimism. But, Luck isn’t just back on the field, he’s been putting together his best season as a pro after returning from shoulder surgery that kept him out of the 2017 season altogether.Luck has his best completion rate of his career to this point at 67.9 percent, his best touchdown percentage of 6.5 percent, is on pace to eclipse his career-best of 40 touchdowns, and has been hitting his best quarterback rating (98.9) as well.In November, Luck was recognized by the NFL as the AFC’s offensive player of the month with his impressive production, and now Pro Football Focus has given the Colts’ signal-caller the same acknowledgment. Luck put up 9 touchdowns to only 3 interceptions Eric Ebron Jersey , had a completion rate of 77.9 percent and compiled 925 passing yards (308 passing yards per game), in leading the team to a 31.3 point per game average and going 3-0 in November. Here is what PFF had to say about their decision to give the honor to Luck:Luck took only a single sack in November which absolutely helped his ability to read the field and deal to his receivers, but didn’t have a dominant running game to give him much of an assist. The Colts averaged only 3.9 yards per rush (301 rushing yards/3 games) after their previous two games, alone, netted them 442 rushing yards.Luck’s Week 13 performance appears to be nothing but a blip at this point when looking at his season production, thus it’s more than fair to assume that he’ll return to form down the stretch of the final four games of the season which the Colts desperately need.

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