By Nathan Brown
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. — Last season, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck had a stellar rookie year, finishing seventh in the league with 4,374 passing yards.
In his sophomore season, Luck may see more sophisticated schemes that are more prepared for his skill set. Luckily for him the Colts added another protector to his offensive line in the offseason to help keep opposing defenses from touching Luck while he tries to lead his team on another playoff run.
Back in March, offensive lineman Gosder Cherilus signed with the Colts as an unrestricted free agent after five seasons with the Detroit Lions. After being selected 17th overall in 2008 by the Lions, Cherilus became a consistent starter on the offensive line that helped quarterback Matthew Stafford and wide receiver Calvin Johnson become one of the best offensive tandems in the league.
Cherilus said when he began to explore his options last offseason, fellow Boston College-grad and Colts offensive lineman Anthony Castonzo tried to persuade Cherilus to give the Colts a chance. Now, after taking in the team’s culture since mid-March, Cherilus said he knew he made the right choice.
“I spoke with Anthony and a few guys, and they told me the team we have here, the people, the city itself and everything kinda fits my character, the kind of person I am,” he said. “I feel like coming here will definitely match my character.”
Since signing the second Boston College grad to the team’s roster in Cherilus, the Colts have also added offensive tackle Emmett Cleary and quarterback Matt Hasselbeck , both fellow Eagle football players in college. Cherilus said playing with several guys who attended the same college has really eased the process of getting used to a new team.
“It’s good to be with those guys. We share some of the same qualities, same heart and same everything,” he said. “They know what it was like at Boston College. The expectations and everything…in here we’re all doing the same thing.”
A nice change of pace with joining Castonzo on the line, Cherilus said, was that the only time he would have to prepare for the Colts defense, including Colts veteran linebacker Robert Mathis, would be in practice. In his rookie season, Cherilus faced off against Mathis who was at defensive end at the time, and the Lions line, including their rookie lineman, managed to save Lions quarterback Dan Orlovsky from any sacks in the December meeting.
Getting used to a new offensive system may prove a brief challenge for Luck’s new bodyguard, but he’s confident he and the rest of the line can give the Colts quarterback the opportunity for another breakout season.
“One thing about football for an offensive lineman, you’re doing a whole bunch of things your body isn’t used to,” Cherilus said. “You do everything going forward, and when it comes to football, we’re all going backwards.
“It’s just some things we have to master, but I think we have a good group of guys. We don’t complain about the workload. We want to work hard. We want to be good, and we know what we do exactly when we do what we’re supposed to do.”