Inside Slant

The Sports Xchange

July 24, 2018 at 1:10 am.

Colts need a lot of Luck in 2018

It’s been an off-season of change for the Indianapolis Colts.

A new head coach along with a new coaching staff is at the top of the list. Former Colts assistant Frank Reich has returned to the franchise after a stint as the offensive coordinator for the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles. It’s his first-ever head coaching job.

Three new coordinators — Nick Sirianni (offense), Matt Eberflus (defense) and Bubba Ventrone (special teams) — top the list of new assistant coaches.

The offensive scheme will be multiple and the plan is to go at a much quicker pace. As for the defense, Indianapolis is going back to a familiar look with a 4-3 Cover 2 alignment. Eberflus, though, plans to add a few tweaks of his own to the scheme to make better use of the Colts’ personnel.

And, lastly, there is a new training camp site. Indianapolis team officials signed a 10-year contract during the offseason that will bring camp to Grand Park in nearby Westfield, Indiana. Grand Park is a large multi-sport facility located about 20 minutes north of the Colts’ headquarters.

With training camp set to open on July 25, team owner Jim Irsay, general manager Chris Ballard and Reich all fully expect quarterback Andrew Luck will be ready to practice. Luck missed all of the 2017 season as he recovered from shoulder surgery.

Assuming that all went well for Luck in his rehab since the conclusion of OTA and minicamp work in early June, the plan right now is for the former No. 1 draft pick to fully practice. He is expected, however. to be on a pitch count to begin the workouts.

“We plan on Andrew being the starting quarterback Week 1 and being great the whole year,” Reich stressed, adding that the goal for the coaching staff during training camp is to get Luck back on a normal practice rhythm after he missed so much practice work over the past year.

“How do we modify training camp to mimic the season for him? That’s why you would hear him say that (during) training camp he is going to be all out. But the rhythm of it, we are going to try to find ways that keep (practices) close to the rhythm of the (regular) season.”

The Indianapolis offensive coaching staff has planned Luck’s workout schedule during training camp all the way to the beginning of the regular season.

“We are leaving no stone unturned,” Reich said. “One of the things that I have learned about Andrew in the short time I have been with him is — and I really appreciate this about him — he is very methodical, disciplined and doesn’t waver.

“What I like is that Andrew sees himself being better than he ever has been. That’s what we all see. So we have a plan to make that happen. And he is driving the ship, as it should be. There is nobody else who can drive that ship. So we just trust that process and stay the course.”

As things stand now, Luck will see playing time in the preseason. How much work he gets, though, remains to be seen.

“Yeah, I think he is going to play some (in the) preseason. I don’t know (how) much at this point,” the Colts coach said. “Generally speaking, I don’t like starting quarterbacks to play too many snaps of preseason ball. I mean, if you just look at the places I’ve been and had any say in it, the starting quarterback doesn’t play a lot in preseason. (But) you need to play enough to get into a rhythm. I feel like we can get into a pretty good rhythm out on the practice field.

“The fact that (Luck) didn’t play last year, then maybe you want him to get a few snaps out there (in games). He has played a lot of ball, so it’s all about getting him ready to play against the Bengals (in the season opener).”

As for the rest of his team, Reich likes what he’s seen so far during the offseason. But he knows work ramps up when training camp starts.

“I really feel good about the group we have. The talent level, the character level, everything that we’ve done. The commitment. I feel very confident that we have the pieces here to really challenge week in and week out and do a lot of good things,” the coach admitted.




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