Today, in this late edition of the notebook, we’ll recap yesterday’s roster moves and injuries talk a little about Griff Whalen, who seems to have endeared himself to so many fans (and, it appears, the coaching staff), and then enjoy some uncut Andrew Luck quotes. Normally, it's best to filter them down a bit, but today, get ready for some semi-awkward, ‘aw shucks’ charm, (I can’t help but to like this guy). Let’s begin with a receiver who once looked like he had little chance of making the roster but is now working to make himself indispensable. (Continued after the jump)
“Griffer” Making Himself Necessary
There are a handful of offensive players who appear as though they’ve begun to make a sizeable leap from where they were last year; Coby Fleener, T.Y. Hilton, Andrew Luck, and, yes, Griff Whalen. To be fair, Whalen only played for part of one preseason game in 2012, so his baseline was just a glimmer of hope from nearly a year ago
Whalen feels like he is finally back to 100% after recovering from a foot injury that ended his season before it began. “Yeah it was a long offseason because the whole season felt like an offseason for me,” he said. “But it took a lot of work to get physically back to where I need to be as well.”
The former Stanford receiver has picked up right where he left off, making his case for a roster spot with surprising consistency and reliability. “Yeah, Griffer. He’s always surprised people,” Andrew Luck said when asked if he’s one of the few people not surprised by Whalen. “I remember coming in as a freshman, as a walk-on, we thought we had the best scout team in America because sort of throw the ball up to Griff and he would go run and catch it. He’s always surprised people. He ended up earning a scholarship. He’s just a good, solid, steady guy and he’s working his butt off, so it’s good.”
As far as Pagano, well, he’s very positive anyway, but when he was asked where Whalen (uh, “Griffer”) fits into the offense, the head coach said the young receiver is making it hard to try to “get rid” of him.
“You know what, we always talk to everybody about becoming necessary and he is one of those guys that is becoming necessary,” Pagano said of Whalen. “Make yourself necessary. He is one of those guys that from a special teams standpoint, number one, he can do a lot of things for you and then number two, he knows every position as far as wide receiver positions go.
“I don’t know if he ever drops a pass, if any. He is very, very reliable. He is no different than Wes Welker in the early stages, (Julian) Edelman, Austin Collie, those type of guys. He is just a reliable guy, he studies his craft, he’s a gym rat, he’s here all the time, he’s working, he knows what to do, he doesn’t make mental mistakes. It’s going to be really hard to get rid of a guy like that so he is going to make it hard on us to try to get rid of him so he is doing a great job.”
Griffer…I feel a 1940s Notre Dame reference/pun coming on. Must fight it.
Injury and Roster Updates
Two promising rookie offensive linemen continued to miss practice yesterday along with a handful of other players. Per Craig Kelley at Colts.com:
G-Hugh Thornton (ankle), C/G-Khaled Holmes (ankle), S-Sergio Brown (hamstring), DT-Kellen Heard (illness), S-Antoine Bethea (wife’s child birth), WR-LaVon Brazill (abdomen), LB-Mario Harvey (hamstring), Daniel Adongo (biceps) and Greg Toler (concussion) missed practice.
The team also parted ways with guard Robert Griffin and injured linebacker Scott Lutrus. Lutrus was injured in the first game of the preseason last year, and may be seeing another chance at an NFL roster spot end all too soon as he was waived this time instead of being placed in the IR.
In their places, Indianapolis signed center Thomas Austin and guard Danous Estenor, who worked out for the Colts (as well as the Dolphins and Buccaneers) in rookie minicamps.
As far as the players missing practice, Pagano expected Bethea to be back today. “We have an update today,” he said. “Talked to Antoine today, baby was still in NICU down there, doing well. Everything is trending in the right direction so hopefully he said he might be back here this evening. They thought and anticipated that his daughter, Sienna, would be able to go home today and he would be up here either late tonight or tomorrow.” As of today, I haven’t found any updates on whether Bethea is back in Anderson, which, of course, would be good news, meaning his baby is out of the hospital. Hopefully, his little girl is doing well.
Khaled Holmes and Hugh Thornton were in position to challenge center Sampson Satele and guard Mike McGlynn for playing time, but both continue to miss time. Pagano sounded confident that neither player will have missed a beat when they return.
Daniel Adongo aggravated a prior injury to his biceps, and according to Pagano, “There is no need to rush it with Daniel so we are just going to hold him out for a while and let him heal up so nothing serious.”
Pagano said Greg Toler’s concussion isn’t very serious either, and that, “They will go through the proper protocol, test him again tomorrow and then we just wait until they release him just like when it happens during the season, you still got to go through the normal protocol.”
Leftover Quotes: All Andrew Luck
Luck on Corey Redding growing tired of him running in practice drills: “(Laughs) Cory’s old. He’ll probably beat me up now. Please don’t print that. No, I’m just kidding. He’s great. He’s another phenomenal leader in our locker room. Him, Robert (Mathis), Reggie (Wayne), they’ve been through a lot, a lot of football. He really does, he does a great job of setting the tone for the younger guys and really being vocal and encouraging them to do the right things. But yeah, quarterbacks got to run sometimes. He should chase me down, just not touch me.”
Luck on taking sacks, being careful not to be hard on his blockers: “Yeah, more than you’d think. None of them a casual fan would think. The O-line, blocking, tight ends, running backs will get a bad rap sometimes for giving up sacks, for giving up hits. But if the quarterback doesn’t see the blitz and doesn’t throw hot then that’s on my fault and that happened more than not. If I scramble and I wasn’t forced to scramble and I take a hit as I’m running throwing away then that’s on me. So that happened more often than not. That’s something I’ve worked on in the offseason and talked with Clyde (Christensen) and Pep (Hamilton) about, Coach Pagano, and I thought I got better at it as the season went on. You can’t take so many hits as a quarterback. It’s the nature of things. It’s not a toughness thing, it’s just you can’t take hits. It’s the way it is.”
Luck on building better timing and chemistry with Darrius Heyward-Bey, who had another solid practice with 6 catches: “Yeah absolutely. I think wide receiver is such repetition. You can throw in the summer and no one’s covering and those are important too, but the more reps you can get in team and seven-on-sevens and one-on-ones, I think it’s just so vital to an offensive timing and rhythm and I think DHB (Darrius Heyward-Bey) with Reggie (Wayne) and T.Y (Hilton) knowing those guys for a year now, it’s been fun to get to go out and throw with them and really take that next step with those guys and hopefully keep on progressing with the wide receivers and all of them.”
Luck on his progression from where he was a year ago: “Yeah, I still need to get better, still need to improve. I do think I’m on the right track, but hopefully by preseason one game I’m better than I was today. And hopefully by playing Oakland that first game we’re better than we were, myself included, than in preseason one. So there’s still a ways to go.”
All quotes and practice note information is courtesy of the Indianapolis Colts PR Department.
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