Notes, Quotes

The Sports Xchange

September 05, 2018 at 1:08 am.

–Unlike many NFL general managers, Ballard is often open about his intentions. He made no secret his philosophy to build a team from the inside-out. After using three of four draft picks in the first two rounds on linemen, he greeted reporters by saying, “I told y’all what we were gonna do. You didn’t listen.”

–Quarterback Andrew Luck didn’t bite at the invitation to return any bulletin-board material after Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey said of the quarterback, “I don’t really think he’s that good. Him and T.Y. (Hilton) had a connection in the past that made him stand out a little bit more, but I don’t think he’s good.” Luck’s amused response: “Glad to be included. I was shown, and I have no comments about the comments.”

–A streak of undrafted players making the Colts’ initial 53-man roster extended to 20 consecutive seasons with linebacker Skai Moore and safety George Odum earning spots.

–Head coach Frank Reich admits he never gets tired of being asked about engineering the greatest comeback in NFL playoff history when he stepped in for an injured Jim Kelly and led the Buffalo Bills from a 35-3 deficit to a 41-38 overtime win over the Houston Oilers in 1993. “You like talking about it,” Reich said, “because there’s so many life lessons you learn, team lessons that you learn, it’s one play at a time. And if there’s one thing I learned through those games, that anytime you’re taking on a challenge, that’s really what you need: you need to surround yourself with people who believe, and you really need to take that mentality of, ‘Hey, it’s one day at a time.'”

–The team’s average age of 25.6 ranks eighth in the NFL. But subtract 45-year-old Adam Vinatieri, the league’s oldest player, and the average age is 25.2, which would tie for the youngest roster.

–Rookie first-round pick Quenton Nelson quickly lived up to a much-publicized physical reputation in practice as the left guard got into a few shoving matches. What was the problem? Nelson doesn’t stop until the whistle blows, which irritated a couple of veterans. “I would say I’m a very nasty offensive lineman that wants to finish his man every play, whether it’s in the run game or the pass game,” Nelson said. That’s how his father taught him to play in Pop Warner.

–Luck was actually excited to get sacked by Baltimore’s Terrell Suggs during a preseason game. It was further proof the quarterback’s shoulder is OK. “I told (left tackle) Anthony (Castonzo) on the sideline, I said, ‘Man, it was sort of fun to get hit by Suggs right there!’ and he gave me a death stare.” When asked about the conversation a few days later, Castonzo rolled his eyes.

–Just three players have more longevity on the Colts roster than Luck, who was drafted first overall in 2012: Vinatieri (13th season, 23rd overall), left tackle Anthony Castonzo (eighth season) and wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (seventh season).

–For what it’s worth, a 3-1 preseason record marked the first time the Colts have had a winning mark in exhibitions since 2003. “I really liked how the guys finished,” Reich said after his team rallied with 13 fourth-quarter points to close out the preseason with a 27-26 win at Cincinnati. “It means something.”

–Quarterback Andrew Luck: With all due respect to backup Jacoby Brissett, who performed admirably last season, the Colts go nowhere without No. 12. When the three-time Pro Bowl star last played in 2016, he passed for 4,240 yards and 31 touchdowns with 13 interceptions. He also ran for two scores. And he did so while playing hurt with that sore shoulder, an injury that Luck actually suffered back in 2015. On a roster lacking in depth with so many young players, Luck has to be the leader, that is, if he can avoid further punishment. He’s taken 156 sacks in five seasons.

–Guard Quenton Nelson: Draft experts suggested the Notre Dame star was one of the best guards in years, and Nelson will prove them prophetic. He’s every bit as nasty as advertised, blocking until the whistle. His testy nature drew the ire of defenders not just in camp but in preseason games, where he delivered pancake blocks. Although he’s excellent at just driving a defender back with brute strength, he’s also particularly effective on the move as a pulling guard. By the time this season has ended, Nelson will be regarded as the finest offensive-line addition since left tackle Tarik Glenn was drafted in the first round in 1997.