ANDERSON, Ind. —
The passing numbers are all the more impressive when factoring in how active the Colts defensive backs have been. Cornerbacks Greg Toler, Vontae Davis and Darius Butler have each shined, and Cassius Vaughn — currently fourth in the pecking order — is coming on strong as well.
There's a swagger to the defense that has matched the renewed confidence in Luck.
"They are playing with a fun confidence, and they are really pushing our guys on offense, myself included, to really make plays, and they're flying around," Luck said. "I am sure Year 2 in the defense, there are a lot of guys that are more familiar. They can play faster and don't have to think about it as much. So it's been a challenge and been fun going up against those guys."
Luck is attacking that defense with some new faces among his supporting cast. Heyward-Bey signed as a free agent from Oakland, and the offensive line has a pair of new starters in left guard Donald Thomas and right tackle Gosder Cherilus.
Thomas and Cherilus are part of a new commitment to the running game, joining free agent running back Ahmad Bradshaw — who has yet to practice as he recovers from a foot injury.
Head coach Chuck Pagano said the new linemen and the running game are among the factors the team is focusing on to improve Luck's ability to move freely in the pocket.
"That first line is coming together, the cohesiveness is coming together," Pagano said. "So from a protection standpoint, those guys are doing a great job giving him plenty of time. The run game is going to help him. We are getting the ball out of his hand with the quick game, screens, those type of things, which is going to help him, and he's managing things. He's had a hiccup like they all are going to have here and there, but as far as from a progression standpoint, he is well on his way to having another great year."