Colts' Andrew Luck has continuity at skill positions for first time in NFL career


That’s what Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck had the right to scream from the rooftop of Lucas Oil Stadium if he chose to. That’s because for the first time in his five-year NFL career, Luck will get to work with the same top skill-position players from the previous season.

Running back Frank Gore, receivers T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief and Phillip Dorsett, and tight ends Dwayne Allen and Jack Doyle are all back.

That’s different from previous seasons for Luck.

Donnie Avery to Darrius Heyward-Bey to Hakeem Nicks to Andre Johnson as the Colts' supposed second or third receiver.

Running back was even worse.

Donald Brown, Vick Ballard, Ahmad Bradshaw, and you can never forget about Trent Richardson.

“It’s huge, especially with the time I missed last year you feel like you’ve lost time, in a sense,” Luck said. “But to have the familiarity, especially with T.Y. and Dwayne, we’ve been together four years now. Jack, Donte, Phillip, Frank -- a lot of guys that have been around for a while and have got a lot of reps, so I think that’s big and probably underappreciated around the league.”

Having continuity with his top skill-position players will pay dividends for Luck because it’s one less thing he has to worry about as he continues to work his way back from missing nine games last season.

One of the reasons Indianapolis was so successful during the Peyton Manning era was because of the stability it kept around him, with players like Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, and Dallas Clark. Manning talked during Hall of Fame weekend how he could mention a play to Harrison that they ran several years ago and the receiver still remembered it.

“We’d be talking on the sideline, we’d be talking in the huddle, and we would refer to a play like six years ago and I say, ‘Marvin, remember in Buffalo in 1999, they were playing you a certain way?’” Manning said. “He knew exactly what I was talking about. It wasn’t normal to have that kind of recall and be able to adjust. We had a lot of head nods. He and I had chemistry early.”

That’s what the Colts want with Luck and his teammates. The eye contact, the head nods, the remembering of plays from years past. That could be possible because Luck, Hilton, and Allen all signed new contracts within the past year. Moncrief and Dorsett are still in their rookie deals.

”Ultimately, as you’re building and what you’re looking for isn’t just one year or a couple months of the same guys, it’s years of those guys being together,” offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski said. “I can think of numerous examples, whether it’s offensive line or whether it’s quarterbacks and receivers, and obviously the examples here of, for years, the same guys being part of it.

“So those are the things that you want to build over time, and the more time on task, you see those guys working extra, working outside. Andrew is always talking to the receivers. It’s the little, subtle things. It’s not as easy as just running the right route and throwing the ball on time. It’s the little subtleties, the differences between receivers, between the timing in different receivers, how they run routes a little bit different. It’s all those things that are the things you’re trying to work on to grow.”