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Colts, Jaguars in different phases of rebuild
The short week could benefit Jacksonville, which has its longest winning streak (three) in the series.
Home teams are 6-2 in Thursday night games this season, no doubt a distinct advantage after they went 7-2 in those prime-time games in 2011.
“It’s tough on the body. It’s tough on the mind,” Colts receiver Reggie Wayne said. “Especially with us having a young team, it’s going to be important that we keep guys mentally focused and make sure you take care of your body because this is going to be a shock to the body. There’s a lot of stuff you’ve got to look into and try to get fixed and get fixed fast. This is a test for us.”
It’s the first prime-time game for Luck.
The two-time Heisman Trophy runner-up has exceeded two years of hype over his first eight NFL games.
He already has three more wins than Indy did last season with three veteran quarterbacks. And against Miami on Sunday, he broke Cam Newton’s single-game rookie record for passing yards by throwing for 433 in a 23-20 victory. He also tied the rookie record set by his predecessor, Peyton Manning, for most 300-yard games in a season (four) and is on pace to shatter several other marks.
He has completed 190 of 336 passes for 2,404 yards, with 10 touchdowns and eight interceptions. At this rate, he would shatter Sam Bradford’s rookie marks for completions (354) and attempts (590) and Newton’s record for yardage (4,051). He also could challenge Manning’s rookie record for TD passes (26).
“I wouldn’t trade him for anybody in the world,” Arians said. “He has made us into a decent offense right now. There are times when we look like a bunch of rookies out there and then there’s other times when we play pretty solid. He is the one pretty consistent force. He likes to practice, he loves to learn, he loves to meet and he has an infectious personality. He kind of wills himself on those guys in the huddle so he’s brought a lot to it.”
Luck and many of his teammates will sport a new look for this game.
Almost three dozen Colts have shaved their heads in a show of support for Pagano. Luck, kicker Adam Vinatieri and Pro Bowl safety Antoine Bethea are among those with buzz cuts.
Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia on Sept. 26 and was hospitalized until Oct. 21. On Monday, his physician, Dr. Larry Cripe of the Indiana University Simon Cancer Center, said Pagano was in “complete remission.”
Gabbert, the 10th overall pick in the 2011 draft, was supposed to be the key to Jacksonville’s rebuild. Although Gabbert beat Indy with an 80-yard TD pass to Cecil Shorts III in the final minute of the first meeting, he has been mostly inconsistent all season. He really took a step back in last week’s 31-14 loss to Detroit, throwing several poor passes and two interceptions.
But if there’s one thing the Jaguars have learned after watching Gabbert for two seasons, it’s that pressure can make quarterbacks uncomfortable.
They believe that’s the key to slowing down Luck and the Colts.
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