• Andrew Luck’s teammates agree that the release of his retirement news did not go as planned, which angered them. Also, Dwayne Haskins on sitting behind starter Case Keenum, Kaleb McGary on the way back for the Falcons, Bill Belichick’s reaction to Luck and more.
By Albert Breer
August 26, 2019

INDIANAPOLIS — Ten days until opening night…

1. Saturday was a bizarre day if you were an Indianapolis Colt. In the locker room on Monday, I asked players how they found out about the news of Andrew Luck’s retirement. Left tackle Anthony Castonzo, one of two Colts who predate Luck in Indy (Adam Vinatieri is the other), was told by the quarterback before the game against the Bears. And he was among the first who Luck went to when word became public, during the fourth quarter. “I was sitting on the bench with Andrew,” Castonzo said, “and he leaned over to me and told me that somebody released the fact that I’m planning on retiring. I was just like … my mouth about hit the floor.”

T.Y. Hilton, Luck’s draft classmate, heard the news from Luck on Thursday. When he heard from teammates that the news was spreading on Saturday during their preseason game, he looked into the stands for confirmation—“a lot of fans were on their phones.” Likewise, Quenton Nelson, apprised by Luck of the news on Saturday before the game, put two-and-two together. “There were a lot of cameras, pretty focused on Andrew on the sideline,” Nelson said. “I’d never really seen the media do that before, where they’re standing as close as possible and focused on one person. I thought, it must’ve gotten out.”

In digesting it, I can tell you that these guys were, in a word, angry that the news had leaked out on Saturday evening. “Extremely,” Castonzo said. “That was his thing to tell, and he wanted to take ownership of it. He had a plan for how he was gonna release it. And the fact that somebody took it upon themselves to take that away from him, I was pretty pissed about it.”

Center Ryan Kelly was more to the point. “You to have this envisioned, how you want to release it, and then Twitter just blows up, people are speculating, all kinds of sh--, you got the fans booing you, that’s horsesh-- in my opinion.”

2. Few can contextualize Luck’s impact on the Colts like Castonzo. The left tackle was a rookie the last year of Peyton Manning (though he never actually played with him), which gives him a pretty good understanding of what Luck faced when taking over as this franchise‘s starting QB in 2012.

“It was a seven-year career, but it was a pretty illustrious seven-year career. He took a franchise that everybody thought would be completely doomed when Peyton was gone, and we went to the playoffs a bunch of years, we went to an AFC Championship Game. We had some good years. And a lot of it was him. I can remember quite a few plays where my guy should’ve sacked him and he got away and made a big play. He’s a guy who was in there and making plays and making a difference. And the situation he came into, he didn’t really let it affect him. He just went out there and played football, what he loved to do.”

3. Colts head coach Frank Reich raised an interesting stat today: Jacoby Brissett, the new starter, took 1200 reps with the first team this offseason with Luck on the shelf, which is a full season’s worth (Luck took 1120 snaps in games last season). This indicates that, at the very least, he’s been prepped as if it’ll be his show already, and teammates have noticed it in how he’s carrying himself now.

“Talking off the field, he’s a hard worker, he’s in the building, and he’ll be in the weight room one-on-one focused, focused on doing things specific to his craft,” Nelson says. “And I really respect and appreciate that out of a teammate, and it’s very important at the quarterback position that you got a guy like that. I’m happy about that. And then on the field, he sounds pretty composed in the huddle. There’s a little bit of a confidence when he’s in, just because of how well he calls a play, the clarity. He can make plays out there, make throws, escape pressure, so yeah, we’ve seen a lot out of him. And we’re just ready to go.”

4. Kaleb McGary’s return to practice in Atlanta shouldn’t fly under the radar. The Falcons’ investment in the offensive line could well determine which way their season goes. If the team hits on McGary and fellow first-rounder Chris Lindstrom, the dynamic for Matt Ryan (who got pretty beat up last year) changes dramatically.

5. Likewise, Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn said we should gain clarity on Russell Okung’s status this week, which is a big one to track. Los Angeles’s offensive line is thin, and they’re one of a number of contenders that could see issues in that area derail their season.

6. At risk of making the MAQB this week all about tackles, I’ll say that the Redskins haven’t budged much with other teams on Trent Williams. Here’s what Jay Gruden said about the situation a few Sundays ago: “I’m optimistic, but I’m realistic too. We have to get the guys ready who are playing, we have to get Geron [Christian] ready, we have to get [Donald] Penn ready or we have to move [Ereck] Flowers back to left tackle. We have to have one of those guys ready to go, and that’s just the way it is. But obviously, I’m very hopeful he comes back, because he’s one of our best players.” Right now, Penn is tracking to be the Week 1 starter in Williams’s spot.

7. While we’re there, before Case Keenum was named the Redskins starter, I asked first-round pick Dwayne Haskins about the benefits of sitting, which he had to for two years in college. He said that he wanted to win the job, but he also knows how to handle learning and growing without playing.

“I know I can help the team, it’s just a matter of my process and my growth,” Haskins says. “I know if I do my due diligence every day, eventually, there’ll be no way they can keep me off the field eventually. [In the meantime, it’s] being the best teammate, being the best quarterback I can be, being the best guy in the room as far as taking notes, and being a good presence to the team in the locker room.”

8. The Steelers’ quiet confidence that their offense would be fine found some validation during Ben Roethlisberger’s first action, Sunday night in Tennessee. Roethlisberger was sharp moving the ball around, and both Donte Moncrief and James Washington looked comfortable in the offense at receiver.

9. I still think the Titans will stick with Marcus Mariota as the starting QB, at least for now, but it’s worth noting that Ryan Tannehill’s efficient play matches what Tennessee has seen from the seven-year vet. So at the very least, they feel like they’ve got a pretty good option in the bullpen.

10. Everyone alright if I just focus on what Bill Belichick said in response to a question about Luck’s retirement, and not worry about the Patriots’ clarification? I think we can all agree it was better that way.

Question or comment? Email us at talkback@themmqb.com.

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