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National Football League

NFL Preseason Preview - Indianapolis (1-0) at Pittsburgh (0-1)



By Scott Garbarini, NFL Editor

(Sports Network) - After making an outstanding opening impression, Andrew Luck gets to showcase his considerable talents on a national stage when the new Indianapolis Colts quarterback leads his team into Heinz Field for an intriguing Sunday night preseason showdown with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Any bitterness Colts fans were still harboring over the organization's unpopular decision to release the at-risk Peyton Manning in March probably subsided after witnessing Luck's pro debut. The No. 1 overall pick in this past draft lived up to his advance billing and more, orchestrating three touchdown drives on his first four possessions in contributing to last weekend's 38-3 shellacking of the St. Louis Rams at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Luck made an impact right off the bat, finding Donald Brown for a short pass that the running back turned into a 63-yard touchdown on the Colts' initial play from scrimmage. The former Stanford star connected with Austin Collie for a 23-yard score later on and finished his first game with 188 yards on a crisp 10-of-16 passing.

"To see him perform and do the things he did under pressure...he handled it well," Colts first-year head coach Chuck Pagano said of Luck.

A new-look Indianapolis defense that's transitioning to a 3-4 scheme also shined in Pagano's initiation, limiting the punchless Rams to 215 total yards while not yielding a touchdown. Jerry Hughes, a 2010 first-round pick who's shifting to outside linebacker, led the effort with a pair of sacks.

The Colts did have a few down moments, however. Starting inside linebacker Pat Angerer fractured his foot in the contest and will miss the beginning of the regular season as a result, while right guard Mike McGlynn sustained a high ankle sprain and running backs Delone Carter and Mewelde Moore exited with rib injuries.

Moore spent the last four seasons with Pittsburgh before joining the Colts as a free agent. He and Carter are competing with rookie Vick Ballard to be the primary backup to Brown.

Angerer's injury creates a battle between ex-Eagles Moise Fokou and Greg Lloyd, former CFL player Jerrell Freeman and Mario Harvey for the starting nod opposite Kavell Conner.

The Steelers enter their 2012 home preseason opener somewhat banged up as well. Perennial Pro Bowl linebacker James Harrison will be sidelined at least the next three weeks after undergoing a scope on his left knee on Wednesday, longtime nose tackle Casey Hampton remains on the physically unable to perform list while recovering from offseason knee surgery and starting fullback David Johnson was recently placed on injured reserve after tearing his ACL in last week's 24-23 loss at Philadelphia.

And Pittsburgh remains without Mike Wallace as the fleet-footed wide receiver continues a camp holdout over dissatisfaction with his contract.

The Steelers have some health issues at running back as well, with 2011 leading rusher Rashard Mendenhall still on the mend from a torn ACL and projected replacement Isaac Redman doubtful for Sunday's contest with a strained groin. Jonathan Dwyer, who ripped off 40 yards on only two carries against the Eagles, is dealing with a minor shoulder sprain but is expected to play.

Pittsburgh will also be undergoing some shuffling along the offensive line for this game, with normal right tackle Marcus Gilbert moving to the left side and Ramon Foster sliding into Gilbert's usual spot. Veteran left tackle Max Starks (knee) isn't yet ready to play after just being activated off the PUP list, while rookie second-round pick Mike Adams struggled in his place during the opener.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was sharp in a brief appearance in the Philadelphia game, however, completing 7-of-8 attempts for 49 yards in helping the Steelers jump out to a 13-0 halftime lead.

The Colts and Steelers will be squaring off in preseason play for the first time since 2000, but the teams did face another in Indianapolis during Week 3 of last year's regular season, a 23-20 Pittsburgh win. The Colts own an 11-9 edge in the preseason series and have taken the last two meetings, including a 24-23 decision in Mexico City back in 2000.

08/17 11:26:36 ET


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