Texans preparing for improved Luck

Texans preparing for improved Luck
November 1, 2013, 9:00 am
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Andrew Luck came into the league as a rookie last year, threw for over 4,000 yards and 20 touchdowns, led his team to the playoffs and went to the Pro Bowl.

And this year, he’s even better.

Luck, in his second NFL season, has the Colts off to a 5-2 start and a two-game lead in the division (three over the Texans).

“I think a year of experience does a world of good for any player,” Luck said in a conference call with Houston reporters on Wednesday. “Definitely more comfortable in certain situations. I think situational football, I understand a bit better. I’m still working, still trying to get better.”

And the Texans know what kind of talent they’re up against, even though Luck didn’t have his best games against the Texans last season. The Texans and Colts split their season series with two games in the last three weeks of the 2012 season. Luck didn’t throw for 200 yards in either game and completed about half of his passes. But he did throw four touchdowns and no interceptions.

Texans head coach Gary Kubiak said Luck, in his second season, looks like an eight- or nine-year veteran.

“Obviously, he’s one of those guys that can beat you with his arm,” cornerback Johnathan Joseph said. “He’s shown that the past two years. He can do it with his legs as well. I think he’s the total package and he makes them go on offense. Each year, he’s tended to prove to get better. This year, he’s playing lights out.”

This season, Luck hasn’t put up the passing yards he did last year. He’s thrown for 1,574 yards in seven games, on pace for just under 3,600 after he threw for over 4,300 last year.

But this season, Luck has been extremely protective with the football. After throwing 23 touchdowns and 18 interceptions as a rookie, Luck has thrown 10 touchdowns and just three interceptions through seven games in 2013. His three interceptions are the fewest in the league among quarterbacks with at least 200 attempts. Meanwhile, the Texans have won the turnover battle in one game out of seven.

“I think he’s a year older as far as experience, so I think that’s helped him,” defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said. “He still makes tremendous plays. He can really throw the ball great and we know that and he can drop back and he’s very accurate but his off-schedule plays are really outstanding and I think that what makes him a great quarterback.”

Aside from being a very good passer, Luck is a good runner and sneaky fast for a 6-4, 240-pound quarterback. Perhaps this gets overlooked because he didn’t run an awful lot in college or because he came out the same year as Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III but Luck becomes extremely dangerous when he runs and buys time in and out of the pocket.

“We need to get some Luck this week and not have luck, but get some Luck this week,” Phillips said, showing off his word play.

But getting Luck isn’t easy.

The Colts’ offensive line has been much better this season but Luck has also played a role in getting sacked just 15 times this season. Twenty-one quarterbacks have been sacked more this season.

The Texans are tied for 25th in the league with 16 sacks. If the defensive line can’t get pressure and cause sacks, Luck will buy time and his receivers have a better chance to get open. He will be without Reggie Wayne, which is a big loss, but has other weapons.

“Definitely challenges for a secondary, we have to make sure that we stay in coverage, stay on our guys,” Ed Reed said. “At the same time, you’ve got to be aware of where he’s at, if he’s running with the ball.”

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