Jacoby Brissett.jpg (copy)

Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett looks down the line during a preseason game at Lucas Oil Stadium in 2018.

INDIANAPOLIS – Jacoby Brissett truly has been handed the keys to the Indianapolis Colts’ offense.

There will be no limitations on the 26-year-old quarterback, including the trump card to change a play at the line of scrimmage if he doesn’t like the look he gets from the defense.

Offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni said he, quarterbacks coach Marcus Brady and head coach Frank Reich spend a good deal of time teaching the ins and outs of each play with the quarterbacks.

They don’t want the signal caller simply to understand what is happening on each play. The underlying concepts of why each play is designed to succeed hold just as much importance.

It’s that deeper knowledge of the playbook that allows the quarterback to survey the defense before each snap and make a decision to put the offense in the best possible position.

Andrew Luck was a master of the skill, but there’s still plenty of room for improvement.

“(Brissett) has been experiencing this from Day 1, and he has taken so many reps with the first team – and we have really made a focus this year as far as getting out of bad plays,” Sirianni said. “We felt like we could’ve done that a little bit better last year at times.

“So we have really made a focus, and Jacoby has gotten all those reps to do that. So his ability to get out of plays, he’s got the same access as Andrew had to get out of a bad play.”

That understanding of the playbook is one of many areas in which Reich has seen growth from Brissett during this offseason.

Brissett was 4-11 as a starter in 2017, filling in while Luck was recovering from right shoulder surgery.

That situation bears very little resemblance to this one, with an entirely new coaching staff and offensive scheme in place.

But there are some experiences Brissett can draw on as he prepares to make just the 18{sup}th{/sup} start of his NFL career Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers.

“It’s a new perspective. It’s a new mindset,” Reich said. “If I am Jacoby, you are learning. You are taking all of those experiences and what you have learned from those – the ups and downs of those experiences, and there were both – but now it’s a fresh mindset going forward.”

If anything, 2017 accelerated Brissett’s learning curve.

He arrived less than a week before the start of the regular season in a trade from the New England Patriots and was still learning his teammates’ names when he stepped into the huddle during the fourth quarter of the season opener against the Los Angeles Rams.

Brissett gradually gained access to more of the playbook as the season wore on, but he was trying to learn the offense at the same time he was studying specific opponents for game plans each week.

It was less than an ideal situation but one that has paid dividends.

“No question, I think it made me a better player,” Brissett said. “You know being able to learn a lot of things on the fly, as you would say, but honestly going back and really studying myself and studying football and just understanding offenses attacking defenses was a tremendous asset for me.”

BEHIND ENEMY LINES

Reich spent three years on the Chargers coaching staff as a quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator from 2013-15.

He established a strong relationship with quarterback Philip Rivers and gained a healthy respect for the veteran’s accomplishments.

“Philip is an elite quarterback in this league,” Reich said. “He has proven that year in and year out. He is a tough competitor, a great test for our defense. He is everything you want in a quarterback. He is elite – elite accuracy, elite toughness, playmaking, a really good challenge for our defense.”

PRACTICE REPORT

Wide receiver Devin Funchess (back) returned to full practice Thursday after being a limited participant in Wednesday’s session.

Cornerback Kenny Moore (thumb) and running back Jordan Wilkins (ankle) continued to be limited participants. They were joined Thursday by defensive end Kemoko Turay (neck).

Defensive end Jabaal Sheard (knee) and running back Jonathan Williams (rib) again did not participate.

Safety Clayton Geathers received a day off for rest.

THB sports editor George Bremer has covered the Indianapolis Colts since 2010. He occasionally sports a beard that can rival Andrew Luck's, but he lacks arm strength and durability.

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