WESTFIELD, Ind. – While we wait for Andrew Luck’s strained, stubborn left calf muscle to settle down, the attention shifts to Jacoby Brissett.
That’s the silver lining of what has been a dark cloud of training camp for the Indianapolis Colts.
“Obviously, yeah, we want Andrew out there,’’ offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni said Wednesday. “But when a guy is getting significant reps, getting the timing down with the receivers, the snap count, the cadence and the calls down with the center and the offensive line, I mean, that’s invaluable.
“I think Jacoby has handled it well.’’
Luck’s travails are well-chronicled, perhaps to a fault. He participated in three of the first four camp practices, albeit in a limited capacity, before the team shut him down for the three morning sessions this week. Luck will be reassessed Friday to determine whether he’s able to resume work Saturday.
Until then, the No. 1 offense – and those invaluable reps – is in the hands of Brissett.
He’s been in this situation before. When it became clear Luck would miss the 2017 season with his surgically-repaired right shoulder, general manager Chris Ballard obtained Brissett in a Sept. 2 trade with New England.
Eight days later and with only crash-course familiarity with the playbook, he saw his first action as a Colt during mop-up time in the opening 46-9 loss to the Los Angeles Rams. The next week, he was the starter against Arizona.
By season’s end, Brissett had started 15 games and made the best of an impossible situation. While the Colts were meandering to a 4-12 record, Brissett passed for 3,098 yards and 13 touchdowns while suffering just seven interceptions and absorbing a league-high 52 sacks.
At least Brissett has experience at stepping in for an injured Luck.
“I’m not worried about that,’’ he said. “Just take it one day at a time. Just getting better at this time of year and that’s the only thing I can focus on.’’
Isn’t it imperative to make the most of the extended reps until Luck returns?
“Do it to the best of my ability and just concentrate on that,’’ he said.
Although Brissett was hardly expansive with his answers during Wednesday’s give-and-take with the media, he conceded he’s much more comfortable in his third season in Indy and second in the Frank Reich/Sirianni offense. After his ultra-busy 2017, he barely saw the playing field in ’18 and attempted only four passes.
Brissett and the other quarterbacks – Phillip Walker and Chad Kelly – have struggled with their consistency and accuracy in Luck’s absence, but Sirianni has noticed Brissett’s growth.
“What I think he has really done is gain the trust of everybody in the offensive huddle,’’ he said. “They have confidence in him and that he’s going to get the job done when he is in there.
“He has done a great job so far of handling the first-team reps. I just think he continues to excel learning our offense. The skills are there. Really, he has done a great job of diving into the playbook. Year two of the system, right? You can really see that with Jacoby (with) the way the plays come out of his mouth and the way his eyes read the play and the speed that he gets the ball out with.’’
Brissett’s leadership has caught the eye of linebacker Darius Leonard.
“He doesn’t care who you are,’’ he said. “I saw him in OTAs getting on vets. Usually, if a vet messes, anybody just walks by. But Jacoby won’t let a mistake walk by.
“So you see a leader on the field and off the field the way he carries himself. He’s just a great guy.’’
More than a few miss practice
Luck wasn’t the only player held out of Wednesday’s practice. In fact, he had plenty of company.
A handful of players had “maintenance days’’ or scheduled off days. That included wideout T.Y. Hilton, defensive lineman Margus Hunt and safety Clayton Geathers.
Players missing practice due to injury included Luck (calf), tight ends Jack Doyle (oblique) and Ross Travis (hamstring), defensive ends Kemoko Turay (shoulder) and Jabaal Sheard (knee), offensive tackle Braden Smith (groin), wideouts Parris Campbell (hamstring) and Penny Hart (hamstring), running back Jordan Wilkins (unknown) and defensive end Ben Banogu (unknown).
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