Oakland Raiders quarterback Terrell Pryor scrambled for 112 yards against the Colts in the season opener. The Colts pulled out a 21-17 victory, but found out they had work to do stopping the read-option quarterbacks on the schedule this year.
"It was a great lesson learned," said Colts head coach Chuck Pagano. "I think the speed of the game and how good that Pryor really is - until you actually see it - it's really hard to simulate in practice."
Two weeks later, the Colts did a much better job corralling 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick ran seven times for just 20 yards.
This Sunday, the challenge is Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. For the third time in the first five games, the Colts face a quarterback who is a threat to run. But the Colts seem to have a better idea now how to handle read-option quarterbacks.
"They all can run," said Colts cornerback Darius Butler. "They're all fast, athletic. I think Russell probably does a better job keeping his eyes downfield when he's scrambling and extending the play. I would say he's more of a threat with his arm. He's a smart kid. He stays poised, for a young quarterback, especially. I would say that's the one thing he does better than the other two guys."
Wilson has run 27 times for 131 yards this season. Colts defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois faced Wilson twice last year in the NFC West when Wilson was a rookie and Jean Francois played for the 49ers.
"If he has to run it, he can," said Jean Francois. "But as you can see he's willing to make plays down the field. He doesn't have to scramble. He can sit in his pocket. As you can see, he's getting more comfortable with his offense. He's getting more comfortable with his receivers, his running backs. You can see all the weapons he has. He doesn't have to leave that pocket until the play is broken down and he's got to use his legs."
The Colts have their own effective running quarterback. Andrew Luck has rushed 16 times for 126 yards and a pair of touchdowns this season. But Luck running the football is not something coach Pagano likes to see.
"He's got a linebacker mentality," said Pagano. "That's how he he's wired. But he understands he can't play the game like a linebacker. Maybe a few years ago he could, but certainly not now. There's too much at stake. He knows that. He knows what he has to do to stay healthy. That's important."
"I realize you have to slide and take care of your body, be safe," said Luck. "If you can pick up a first down with your legs a game, I think that can help the offense keep the drive going. I'm definitely looking to pass first."
Coby Fleener has watched Andrew Luck pick the right time to run since they were teammates at Stanford.
"I think his athleticism overall is probably underrated," Fleener said. "He'd be one heck of a tight end, so I'm thankful he's playing quarterback. Obviously, he's a very smart guy who processes things very quickly. He's got a lot of tools that you don't really see because he plays quarterback."
Luck is averaging 7.9 yards a carry, second only to Michael Vick of the Eagles among NFL quarterbacks.
The Colts (3-1) host the Seahawks Sunday at 1:00 p.m. at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Seahawks are 4-0 for the first time in franchise history.
The Colts will team up with WTHR Channel 13, Tuchman Cleaners, and The Salvation Army to host the "Coats for Kids" collection, prior to the game. From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., volunteers will collect new and gently used coats from Colts fans to help children in need. Donations will be collected at the Colts Community Collection Stations, presented by Toyota, located outside each Lucas Oil Stadium gate.
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