View from the golf cart: Arians sad about Luck

by Gary Shelton on August 26, 2019 · 0 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs

Arians remembers days with Luck fondly./JEFFREY S. KING

Monday, 3 a.m.

Andrew Luck is the man who is hurting. But Bruce Arians can feel his pain.

Arians, who was Luck's first offensive coordinator in the NFL, was watching the Florida-Miami game when he heard that Luck had retired.

In their only season together, Luck completed 54.4% of his passes for 4,374 yards with 23 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. Indianapolis advanced to the postseason with a 11-5 record after a season in which it went 2-14. The Colts lost their wild-card round matchup 24-9 to the Baltimore Ravens.

(On where he was when he heard the news that Andrew Luck is retiring)

"I  just was really in shock," Arians said. "I know he’s been struggling with this latest injury, but the last time I talked to him, he was still fired up about the year and the team.”

Arians said he was surprised.

"Yeah, just knowing his toughness and his mental toughness, this does surprise me," Arians said. "Something has got to be wrong somewhere – I know because he loves the game so much. I (broadcasted) two of their games last year and he was running off the bus to come say hi and tell me about how the team was doing and the young receivers and how excited he was. So, to see it, that was very disheartening.

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"If you’ve battled injuries or sickness and you got healthy, and boom, you get it again – people who have beaten cancer and they got it back and they beat it again – it wears on you. This isn’t as serious as cancer but it is, for him, not knowing if he’d ever throw again [and] not knowing if he’d ever run again. The constant rehab and the separation from the team while you’re rehabbing, I think sometimes is really hard.

"I love Andrew like a son. That rookie year was so special, and then all the things that happened with Chuck [Pagano] that year, so it made it even more special. I hope he finds what he’s looking for real soon. He’s a very bright young man, so he’ll be building buildings or something, or run for politics or something. I just wish him all the best."

On other subjects, Arians said:

(On how important it is for S Justin Evans to play in Thursday’s preseason game at Dallas): "It’s important and we’ll see if it’s feasible. He went through (individual drills) today [with] no problems. We’ll probably put him in some reps tomorrow and Tuesday and walkthrough Wednesday and see how he travels. I’d love to get him in the game just to start getting his eyes trained in this defense, because it’s so different than what he’s played. It’s good to see him out there."

(On if there are other players dealing with an injury who might play on Thursday): "Probably not. If they’re that close [to being healthy], I wouldn’t play them in this game anyway."

(On what he sees from Justin Evans)" "He’s a freaky athlete and he’s a really heady, smart player. You can tell on tape – he gets it, he sees it. He’s out there making all the calls all spring. He knows it, but it’s just different. He went through drills, they were breaking on screens … slid and busted his butt. (It’s) nice to be back."

(On if he would prefer for OL Earl Watford to play multiple positions on the offensive line): "Earl’s forte is five-position flexibility on Sunday. He’s played as a three and four-game starter. I’m very comfortable with that role."

(On if Watford could dress as a backup center): "Yes."

(On how valuable Devante Bond’s flexibility at linebacker is): "It’s huge. When you have two-position or three-position flexibility – because he’s a horse on special teams – it just adds to your value."

(On how he wants to handle the quarterbacks’ playing time on Thursday after signing QB Vincent Testaverde): "He’s going to play a bunch, so (he needs to) get back in the playbook."

(On if he will play any other quarterback besides Testaverde): "Right now it’d be Griff (Ryan Griffin) and he won’t play much.”

(On what he’s seen from S Jordan Whitehead during the preseason): "I think Jordan has made probably the most progress on defense. Learning the scheme – we knew how physical he was, but his pass defense has gotten so much better, his awareness has gotten so much better and he had a heck of a ballgame the other night.”

On what he’s seen out of TE Jordan Leggett): "Another guy that’s growing. He was a pass receiving tight end at Clemson. He’s struggled to block where he’s been, but he’s willing and I’ve seen him really improve as a blocker. I know he can catch – he can run and he can catch – but he’s improved as a blocker.”

(On what he likes about DL Rakeem Nunez-Roches): "Just the way he plays. He’s balls to the wall all day long and a very smart player (and) very aggressive player. He’s slippery inside as a pass rusher, so he’s made a nice case for himself.”

(On what he’s seen out of OLB Patrick O’Connor): "Very similar – a guy that can play a lot of positions. He can play nickel and he can play a three-technique, he can play a five, so again, his position flexibility has really helped him, and again, he’s a high-motor guy.”



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