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Thursday marks the beginning of the end for some players as they prepare for their final preseason games, while others see it as the last hurdle before the NFL regular season can start.

With players going out with injuries or even on their own terms into retirement, teams have until Saturday to finalise their 53-man rosters.

 

Three things that matter

Change coming to Jaguars' defense?

The Jacksonville Jaguars have three explosive weapons in defensive ends Josh Allen, Yannick Ngakoue and Calais Campbell, but defensive co-ordinator Todd Wash explained he is comfortable changing up his scheme to ensure the team can maximise Allen and Ngakoue together.

"It's obvious we have to get our best players on the field," Wash said. "So obviously we've got two very good defensive ends in Josh and Yannick. We've got to come up with ways to get them both on the grass at the same time."

Bushrod to retire a Saint

Veteran guard Jermon Bushrod will reportedly announce his retirement during Thursday's preseason finale against the Miami Dolphins after signing a one-day contract with the New Orleans Saints so he could finish his career as a member of the team he has been most closely associated with since entering the league in 2007.

Bushrod started in New Orleans' Super Bowl XLIV win over the Indianapolis Colts and earned two Pro Bowl selections during his time with the team before also having stints with the Chicago Bears and Dolphins.

Reed's career likely over after neck injury

Seattle Seahawks cornerback Kalan Reed had been considered for a starting role but suffered a neck injury in the team's second preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings earlier this month and has been seeing a specialist for further evaluation.

However, Reed's agent Harold Lewis confirmed injuries to the 25-year-old's third and fourth vertebrae caused numbing and "put him at serious risk if he plays again." It is a huge blow for Reed, given the significant strides he made this offseason.

Two things that don't matter

Falcons giving Bryant a tryout

Falcons before being released earlier this offseason, but the team appear to be struggling with fellow kickers Giorgio Tavecchio and Blair Walsh, so why not bring in a familiar face? Matt Bryant will reportedly visit the Falcons on Friday, one day after Atlanta wrap up preseason play at Jacksonville.

Atlanta's all-time leading scorer with 1,122 points, Bryant is one of the most accurate kickers in NFL history, ranking eighth in career field-goal percentage (86.222 percent).

Tony Romo wants to be first $10 million per year analyst

Retired quarterback Tony Romo is done throwing passes, but he is ready to corner his next market in television. Romo's three-year analyst deal with CBS is set to expire after this season, and while his reps have been negotiating a new contract with the network, the former Dallas Cowboys star has reportedly been generating offers from ESPN, Fox and Amazon.

Front Office Sports reported Romo is seeking a deal that would pay him $10million per year, a hefty raise from the $4m per year he is earning now. But is he worth that much?

One video you have to see

Seahawks receiver D.K. Metcalf showed off his impressive two-sport talents.

Thursday's tweet of the day

ESPN reporter Adam Schefter does not seem to mind the heat he is taking for the manner in which he broke the news about Andrew Luck's surprise retirement.

It's football time in the US.

The NFL preseason wraps up this week and the college season really gets going on Thursday as the No. 1 team in the country Clemson opens up against Georgia Tech.

With that several storylines that have rumbled on throughout the offseason come into an even greater focus.

Here we look at some of the biggest news from this week in US Sports.

 

1. Contracts still up in the air as holdouts stand their ground

With the NFL season less than two weeks away, teams are starting to finalise their rosters. But what can make a franchise's job even harder is trying to come to decisions at key positions when players are not in camp, and in Texas, two huge players remain in a self-imposed exile.

Ezekiel Elliott continues to hold out in search of a new contract with the Dallas Cowboys and in Houston, Jadeveon Clowney still has not signed his franchise tender with the Texans and appears willing to wait into the season to make any kind of decision if he is not traded.

The argument could be made these two players are the best on the rosters of the Cowboys and Texans and it is very likely neither will be active in Week 1.


2. College football kick-off

NFL free agent Ryan Russell opened up about his sexuality in a letter published on Thursday that reveals he is bisexual.

The defensive end said keeping silent on the matter meant he had been deprived of "the basic privilege of living an open life".

Russell wants to return to the NFL but fears his sexuality could prove a barrier, although it is one he aims to help break down. 

"Judging from the fact that there isn't a single openly LGBTQ player in the NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball or the NHL, brings me pause," he wrote in a letter published by ESPN. 

"I want to change that – for me, for other athletes who share these common goals, and for the generations of LGBTQ athletes who will come next."

The 27-year-old, who has played for the Dallas Cowboys and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, missed the entire 2018 season because of a shoulder injury.

He hopes now to find acceptance with a new team after realising that being open and honest had made him feel more at ease with himself.

"Have I lied to team-mates, coaches, trainers, front-office executives and fans about who I am? Not exactly," he wrote. 

"But withholding information is a form of deceit. And I want the next part of my career – and life – steeped in trust and honesty.

"During the season you spend more time with your team than with your own family; truth and honesty are the cornerstones of a winning culture.

"My truth is that I'm a talented football player, a damn good writer, a loving son, an overbearing brother, a caring friend, a loyal lover, and a bisexual man." 

 

With one team seemingly prepared to lose a star player for at least part of the regular season, another team has no choice but to keep their distance from one of theirs.

Meanwhile, several other players appear to be extending their absence after succumbing to setbacks in their respective recoveries from injury.

 

Three things that matter

Jerry Jones takes clear stance on Ezekiel Elliott holdout

Dallas Cowboys fans may not be happy to hear their side are willing to play without their star rusher at the start of the season.

But Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has hinted at just that, telling 105.3 The Fan: "We want Zeke when we get to the playoffs. We want Zeke when we're in the dog days of this season.

"We may very well play without a player that's not coming in on his contract. We'll play and we'll play well."

Elliott has one year left on his rookie contract as well as a fifth-year team option but has been holding out for a new deal all pre-season while he trains in Mexico, even after the Cowboys reportedly offered to make him the league's second-highest paid running back.

Brock Osweiler pays the Colts a visit

It has been four days since Andrew Luck announced his surprise retirement at the age of 29.

The Indianapolis Colts have yet to officially name Jacoby Brissett as their season-opening starter, and they have now reportedly ramped up their search for a solid back-up.

They still have Phillip Walker, who has never played a regular-season snap, and Chad Kelly, who is suspended for the first two games of the season for violating the league's personal conduct policy.

Osweiler supported Ryan Tannehill for the Miami Dolphins last season, and Peyton Manning's former back-up certainly has the experience the Colts are looking for.

Jerick McKinnon has setback in knee rehab

San Francisco 49ers running back McKinnon tore his anterior cruciate ligament in September 2018 and was activated from the PUP list earlier this month, though Niners general manager John Lynch is concerned a recent "flare up" could keep him off the field.

"Just because he's kind of working through this, we're working it, I'm going to kind of leave it at that, but yesterday was not encouraging from that standpoint," Lynch said. "What that means, we're not sure yet, and we're working hard to find that out."

Two things that don't matter

Kareem Hunt barred from Browns facility during ban

Cleveland Browns running back Hunt will not be allowed back to the training facility until he has served an eight-game suspension for violating the league's personal conduct policy.

Hunt cannot return until after the Browns play the Denver Broncos on November 3, according to NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy.

However, Hunt's team-mate Antonio Callaway will be permitted to attend meetings and other team functions while serving a four-game match ban for violating the league's substance abuse policy.

Jake Butt slated for second knee surgery

The Broncos tight end was optimistic about his comeback campaign in 2019 after he tore his ACL in practice last September, but it has been reported Butt is set to undergo a "minor procedure" as he continues to deal with soreness in his surgically repaired left knee.

Broncos coach Vic Fangio already made it clear Butt will not train this week or play in Thursday's final exhibition game against the Arizona Cardinals.

"When he starts to feel good and plays or practices, then it flares back up again," Fangio told the team's official website. "It's just something we're going to have to deal with here. He won't play in this game and he may miss some time."

One player's status was clarified on Tuesday as the NFL regular-season opener countdown reached single digits.

But another player could be on the move before week one gets underway if negotiations go smoothly over the next seven days.

 

Three things that matter

Elliott training with Faulk during holdout

The Dallas Cowboys star is staying in shape by working out with the Hall of Fame running back in Mexico, and while Marshall Faulk acknowledged Ezekiel Elliott is in prime shape, he admitted training is not the same as seeing in-game action.

"His fitness is great, but playing in games is different," Faulk told ESPN. "My job is to close that gap with putting him in active game situations. The only thing we can't simulate is the contact."

It remains unclear if Elliott will extend his holdout into the regular season even though the Cowboys reportedly offered to make him the league's second-highest paid rusher, which would net him an average salary between $13.125 and $14.375million.

Clowney making jump to Dolphins?

The Miami Dolphins are rumoured to be interested in trading for the Houston Texans linebacker, who reportedly already met with head coach Brian Flores and other members of the organisation. But Jadeveon Clowney, who has yet to sign his one-year tender worth $15.967m and recently parted with long-time agent Bus Cook, reportedly prefers the Seattle Seahawks or Philadelphia Eagles as his potential destination.

Still, the Miami Herald further noted the Dolphins and Texans had "re-engaged" to explore a possible trade and that Miami "consider themselves the leader in the sweepstakes to land the pass rusher."

Newton will start NFL opener

The Carolina Panthers quarterback has been dealing with a foot injury, but head coach Ron Rivera is confident Cam Newton will be ready to play in week one when the team host the Los Angeles Rams on September 8.

"There is no doubt in my mind," Rivera told reporters.

Newton was seen leaving last Thursday's preseason loss to the New England Patriots in a walking boot after going down with a sprain in his left foot during the game. But he ditched it by the weekend and was working freely on the sideline with trainers during practice this week.

On the other hand, Rivera is feeling "uneasy" about the leg injury kicker Graham Gano is dealing with.

Two things that don't matter

49ers release Smith

The veteran linebacker and Super Bowl 48 MVP was released by the San Francisco 49ers after just two seasons. Malcolm Smith, who missed the entire 2017 season with a torn pectoral and four games with other injuries last season, had 35 tackles and one pass breakup in 12 games over that time. The 30-year-old is expected to garner plenty of interest from other teams before the start of the season.

DeSean Jackson suffers broken finger

Philadelphia Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson reportedly broke his left ring finger during practice on Tuesday and declined to speak to reporters after the workout, noting that he was in pain. But the injury is not expected to sideline him for the team's September 8 opener against the Washington Redskins and the team have no concerns regarding his availability.

One video you have to see

Former Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski became emotional when speaking about the physical and mental pain that led to his retirement decision while at a summit advocating for players to be permitted to use Cannabidiol (CBD) for pain.

Tuesday's tweet of the day

Antonio Brown angrily clapped back at Ben Roethlisberger after the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback said he wished he would not have called out the receiver last season, saying the two were "never friends just had to get my ends" and to "shut up already."

Ron Rivera believes injured quarterback Cam Newton will be ready to feature for the Carolina Panthers' opening NFL fixture against the Los Angeles Rams.

Newton's start to the season was put in doubt last week, when he suffered a foot sprain early in the team's pre-season game against the New England Patriots.

However, the injury does not appear to be too severe, with head coach Rivera telling reporters on Tuesday that there is "no doubt in my mind" Newton will be ready to start.

"Everything he's been doing, everything he's done is exactly what he needed to," Rivera said. "And we're at the point now where, you know, it's just a matter of time before we start our official prep for the Rams."

Newton is not, however, expected to play in his team's final pre-season game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday.

The Panthers will open their season against the Rams in Charlotte on September 8.

Ron Rivera believes injured quarterback Cam Newton will be ready to feature for the Carolina Panthers' opening NFL fixture against the Los Angeles Rams.

Newton's start to the season was put in doubt last week, when he suffered a foot sprain early in the team's pre-season game against the New England Patriots.

However, the injury does not appear to be too severe, with head coach Rivera telling reporters on Tuesday that there is "no doubt in my mind" Newton will be ready to start.

"Everything he's been doing, everything he's done is exactly what he needed to," Rivera said. "And we're at the point now where, you know, it's just a matter of time before we start our official prep for the Rams."

Newton is not, however, expected to play in his team's final pre-season game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday.

The Panthers will open their season against the Rams in Charlotte on September 8.

Rob Gronkowski has opened up on his decision to retire from the NFL and how the physical and mental impact of the game brought him to that point.

The former New England Patriots tight end, speaking at a summit advocating for players to be allowed to use CBD oil for pain, fought back tears when he said he explained his exhaustion after Super Bowl LIII.

"I want to be clear to my fans. I needed to recover. I was not in a good place. Football was bringing me down, and I didn't like it. I was losing that joy in life," Gronkowski told the crowd, in quotes published on ESPN.

Gronkowski surprised many when he retired from the NFL in March at the age of 29. He said a thigh injury he sustained during the Super Bowl against the Los Angeles Rams was what pushed him over the edge.

"I got done with the game and I could barely walk," he revealed.

"I slept five minutes that night. I couldn't even think. I was in tears in my bed after a Super Bowl victory. It didn't make that much sense to me. And then, for four weeks, I couldn't even sleep for more than 20 minutes a night. I was like, 'Damn, this sucks'. It didn't feel good," Gronkowski said.

"It was one of the biggest, deepest thigh bruises I've ever gotten."

Gronkowski also noted that the thigh bruise was so severe he had internal bleeding in his leg.

His decision to discuss the physical and mental strains of football coincides with Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck's decision to walk away from the game at 29 for similar reasons. However, Gronkowski claimed he is happy with where he is in life.

"I truly believe going through those tough times, nine years — off the field, on the field — has brought me to this point and I believe I'm on the right path in my life," he said.

"It's a purpose to have passion in my life, to have joy in my life. And then to inspire optimal health within myself, I need to do that in order to get to a peak and then I can bring it to other people, because I know [in] the NFL, players are dealing with that kind of stuff, they're dealing with pain. I was. And I needed to walk away because I needed to do what was best for myself."

As for coming out of retirement, Gronkowski admitted he is not completely saying no, but added that mentally, he is unable to get back into the game at this point.

Carli Lloyd received an offer to kick in an NFL preseason game later this week, her trainer James Galanis said on Monday.

Lloyd, a two-time Women's World Cup champion with the United States, drilled a 55-yard field goal at Philadelphia Eagles practice last week, which led to one unnamed team asking her to be on their roster for their matchup on Thursday, Galanis told Fox Sports.

The forward was genuinely interested, Galanis said, but she declined the invitation because it conflicts with USA's friendly against Portugal at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.

"[Monday], she got another call from another NFL team," Galanis said.

"The one that called today, I don't want to say who it is, was willing to put her on the roster for their next [game]. They were willing to put her on the roster. She was told [she could] play on Thursday, the NFL game, but she is playing Thursday with the national team, so that was the conflict."

Galanis said Lloyd was "definitely thinking about" trying to kick in the NFL. 

"Knowing Carli, I don't think she would just hop on and do it," Galanis said. "She would need a couple of weeks training just to get comfortable. But things have escalated and it is real … Knowing Carli, this is why it is enticing for her because it is a challenge. That's what Carli thrives on, it is the next thing she can conquer. That's why we have had half a dozen conversations about it in less than a week."

Lloyd told NBC Sports she thinks, with some work, she could be successful at the position. 

"The mindset I have, I think with practice, I know I have to work on my steps and my technique, but I think I could do it and do it well," Lloyd said during that interview.

"It could be a huge pivotal moment. There is no reason why a woman could not do this. And I actually invite the pressure. I love the pressure.

"When I have to nail something – shooting hoops, axe throwing, kicking a field goal – that is the moment I live for and want. It's worth having some conversations about it. With practice and someone showing me, I know I can do it."

Green Bay Packers star Aaron Rodgers said Andrew Luck deserved a standing ovation after the retiring Indianapolis Colts quarterback was booed by his own supporters.

Luck announced his shock retirement on Saturday – the same day as the Colts' 27-17 NFL preseason loss to the Chicago Bears.

The four-time Pro Bowler was in attendance as reports of his decision emerged prior to Luck making it official and Colts fans were not happy.

Some Colts fans decided to boo Luck when the 29-year-old star left the field at Lucas Oil Stadium.

On the boos, Packers quarterback Rodgers told reporters on Monday: "I thought it would've been more of a standing ovation type thing and a thank you than boos.

"I said it this morning. I 100 per cent respect him immensely for his decision. I salute him for choosing quality of life, and he's a fantastic player. He had a great career and he's got a lot to be proud of.

"I'm excited for him, and I think actually what he did is very selfless."

Rodgers, though, was critical of how Luck's plans were leaked.

Luck had initially planned to make his retirement announcement on Sunday but was forced to move his timetable up after reports began to surface about his intentions.

"He's making a really tough decision," Rodgers said. "I don't know why that doesn't stay in-house. You've got to protect him a little bit."

Luck spent seven years with the Colts after being drafted with the top pick in the 2012 NFL Draft and won Comeback Player of the Year in 2018 after throwing for 4,593 yards and 39 touchdowns.

Luck said during Saturday's news conference that the boos he received "hurt".

Andrew Luck sent shockwaves through the NFL this weekend as he announced his retirement at age 29, shifting the focus of the final week of preseason to the Indianapolis Colts.

But life goes on elsewhere around the NFL as teams get ready to flip the calendar and turn their attention to the regular season.

Three things that matter

Colts need a new quarterback

It is widely assumed that backup Jacoby Brissett will take over the starting role now that Luck is gone, but coach Frank Reich and the Colts have yet to make him the official opening-day starter.

"We have not had that deep down heart to heart about the upcoming season just yet," Reich told reporters . "That will probably happen in the next day or two."

Reich acknowledged the team are in "good hands" with Brissett going forward and added the team will next determine whether Chad Kelly or Phillip Walker will move up the depth chart. It was also reported that Joshua Dobbs is drawing interest from Indianapolis if Mason Rudolph does, in fact, secure the backup job with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Chiefs needed a quarterback too, after losing backup

After the Kansas City Chiefs learned Chad Henne would need surgery for his broken right ankle suffered in Saturday's preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers, the team signed former Carolina Panthers and Miami Dolphins quarterback Matt Moore for insurance. The 35-year-old has not played since 2017, but just like that, Moore is behind third-year gunslinger Patrick Mahomes. Similar to Henne, Moore is a 10-year NFL veteran who has thrown for 6,938 yards and 45 touchdown passes and 36 interceptions in 49 games, including 30 starts.

Odell Beckham Jr. a full go at Browns practice

The Browns receiver participated in team drills on Monday for the first time since early August, indicating he will likely be ready for week one when Cleveland host the Tennessee Titans.

"He looked good," Browns coach Freddie Kitchens told reporters after practice . "It's good to have him back out. We've been working on the side with him with other things. It's just the natural progression, so it was good to have him back."

Kitchens added that he does not want to overwork Beckham, who has been dealing with a hip injury, or quarterback Baker Mayfield as they continue to get comfortable, assuring "they'll definitely be on top of their game when we start game planning and timing".

Two things that don't matter

Matt Overton offers help to disgruntled Indy fans

The Jacksonville Jaguars long snapper, who spent five seasons with the Colts from 2012-16 and still lives in Indianapolis, did not think too highly of the fans that booed Andrew Luck off the field on Saturday as reports of his retirement broke. He took things a step further on Monday by offering a solution to Colts fans wanting refunds on their season tickets.

We will see if Overton's suggestion silences Luck's haters, but it has certainly drawn extra support.

Patrick Chung pleads not guilty in cocaine case

The New England Patriots safety also waived his arraignment scheduled for Wednesday on the possession charge. Chung's next court appearance will be a "dispositional conference" that is scheduled for November 8. He was indicted last Thursday by a New Hampshire grand jury on the charge, a Class B felony in the state that carries a fine of up to $2,000 and a potential prison term of up to seven years. Even if he is found not guilty of the charge, he could face discipline from the NFL for violating the league's personal conduct policy.

But that did not stop Chung from returning to practice with the team on Sunday after he was missing in action late last week.

One video you have to see

Ryan Shazier's appearance on the field ahead of the Steelers' preseason game against the Titans on Sunday was so remarkable, it was still being talked about the next day.

Monday's tweet of the day

Luck's retirement was the talk of Twitter for a solid two days, but apparently, Patriots coach Bill Belichick was unaware it happened this weekend, saying: "I didn't see that but I don't really follow them."

It was later clarified that Belichick meant he did not see Luck's retirement coming. Stay grumpy, Bill.

Carli Lloyd believes she could be a successful NFL kicker after going viral for making a 55-yard field goal while visiting a Philadelphia Eagles practice.

The United States women's national team star turned heads this week when she drilled a perfect long-range attempt, which she later said resulted in "some inquiries" from NFL teams.

Lloyd, a long-time Eagles fan, sat down with NBC Sports' Peter King for his weekly 'Football Morning in America' column to discuss how the impressive kick came to be.

"I love the Eagles. I've been an Eagles fan my whole life," Lloyd said. "I had an off-day and I figured I'd come out ... I brought my boots.

"I could kick all day long. I could kick field goals all day long. I absolutely love it. There's a lot the same with kicking a soccer ball and kicking a football. I love kicking long balls in soccer, and it carries over to football. The technique is the same, and I think I'm very accurate.

"I started at 25 [yards], and they kept moving me back. I hit one short, I think. There were a couple with the wind that went wide. I got to 55, and that was it. One take. It was good.

"I had no idea anyone was videotaping it or putting it on cell-phone video. I tried from 57, but it was wide; the distance was good. I would have kept going — my competitive nature. But I felt like I was holding them up out there."

Lloyd was flooded with messages after the clip went viral on social media.

"When we got in the car, it was unbelievable," she said. "The texts, the videos, everything going viral. I had no idea. It was insane. It still is insane. I could not believe the attention on social media.

"I just had a conversation with Randy [Brown, the former mayor of a town near Lloyd's home and assistant special-teams coach with the Baltimore Ravens], actually. The coaches and his GM, they all saw the video. They were like, 'What is she doing next week?'

"I'm laughing about it, but the more I think about it, this has the chance to be sort of a pioneering moment for women."

Lloyd's kick also caught the attention of Gil Brandt, former Dallas Cowboys' vice-president of player personnel, who tweeted: "Honestly, I don't think it will be long before we see a woman break through this NFL barrier. I'd give her an honest tryout if I were, say, the [Chicago] Bears."

The USWNT veteran, who helped her side retain the World Cup in July, hopes one day there could be a place for women in the NFL. 

"I know that I could actually probably do it. Put on the helmet, strap on the pads, go for it," Lloyd said. "The mindset I have, I think with practice, I know I have to work on my steps and my technique, but I think I could do it and do it well. It could be a huge, pivotal moment.

"There is no reason why a woman could not do this. And I actually invite the pressure. I love the pressure. When I have to nail something — shooting hoops, axe-throwing, kicking a field goal — that is the moment I live for and want.

"It's worth having some conversations about it. With practice and someone showing me, I know I can do it. I have one of the most accurate shots in our game. [The] big thing would be getting used to the big boys out there. But nothing scares me.

"You hold yourself back if you're afraid. What's the worst that can happen? I don't make the team? Let's just say I did try. Maybe I change the landscape a lot."

Lloyd and the rest of the national team are in the middle of a victory tour that will end on October 6 against South Korea. After the World Cup, Lloyd hinted she will continue playing international football for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Andrew Luck's shock retirement has thrust Jacoby Brissett into the limelight for the Indianapolis Colts.

Before Luck announced his decision there had been talk of Brissett potentially being traded, though such suggestions were shut down by the Colts' front office.

Now he is the man tasked with leading Frank Reich's offense and will have an extremely tough act to follow after Luck finished his fine career with a 2018 season that saw him throw for 4,593 yards and 39 touchdowns.

But who is Brissett, and does he have what it takes to fill the void? Here we take a look at the Colts' new starting quarterback.

 

When was Brissett drafted?

Brissett entered the NFL as a third-round pick of the New England Patriots in the 2016 draft after a pair of stellar college seasons at NC State. After transferring from Florida, Brissett threw for 5,268 yards, 43 touchdowns and just 11 interceptions for the Wolfpack.

How did the Colts acquire him?

The Colts sent wide receiver Phillip Dorsett to the Patriots to land Brissett in a trade in September 2017, giving them another option under center with Luck's status still up in the air as he recovered from surgery on a separated shoulder.

What is his NFL experience?

Indianapolis will have been convinced to trade for Brissett partially by his performance in relief of the suspended Tom Brady and injured Jimmy Garoppolo in Week 3 of the 2016 season. Brissett led the Patriots to a 27-0 victory and, with Brady guiding them to a Lombardi Trophy following his return, left New England with a Super Bowl ring.

He replaced Scott Tolzien in Week 1 of the 2017 season as the Colts were thrashed 46-9 by the Los Angeles Rams. From there he started the remaining 15 games and, though he only managed to lead a poor Colts team to four victories, Brissett emerged from the campaign with plenty of credit. He threw for 3,098 yards and 13 touchdowns with seven interceptions. He also ran for 260 yards and four touchdowns.

Can he fill the void?

"Jacoby Brissett is a winning football player in this league. Jacoby Brissett is a rare, rare leader. He is. He's a rare human being, man. That locker room loves Jacoby Brissett. They love him."

Those were the words of Colts general manager Chris Ballard following Luck's retirement, making it clear Brissett will have the faith of the locker room.

But is he good enough to ensure the Colts remain contenders post-Luck?

There is no doubt he has the arm. Brissett has no problem throwing the long ball and, when Luck was still struggling with his shoulder last year, was brought on for a late Hail Mary attempt against the Philadelphia Eagles.

In his 2017 season, Brissett also demonstrated the ability to go through his progressions and hang tough in the pocket even as it collapsed around him.

He may not have to worry too much about the pocket disintegrating in his second go-around as starter. The Colts have invested heavily in the offensive line, in an effort to protect Luck from the injuries that ultimately brought an early end to his career, and 2018 draft picks Quenton Nelson and Braden Smith have done an excellent job of shoring things up in the trenches.

Luck was sacked only 18 times in 2018, with Brissett having suffered 52 a year earlier.

Brissett is a superior runner to Luck and the damage he can do with his legs adds another dimension to an offense featuring plenty of talent.

In addition to an improving O-Line, Brissett has the benefit of one of the better offensive minds in the game in Reich, as well as an impressive array of pass-catching options including T.Y. Hilton, tight end Eric Ebron and electric rookie Parris Campbell.

The Colts have done a tremendous job of putting Brissett in a position to succeed. For him to do so he will need to show greater consistency and accuracy.

Completion percentage is not the ultimate barometer of the latter, but Brissett completed only 58.8 per cent of his passes in 2017. Luck's percentage was under 60 only twice in his six seasons.

However, with Reich at the helm he has an ideal coach to help him realise his potential. Without Luck the Colts may not be the favourites to win the AFC South, but Brissett is capable of keeping them firmly in contention.

Andrew Luck rocked the NFL on Saturday when he confirmed he was retiring.

The 29-year-old, who has battled injuries since entering the league with the Indianapolis Colts in 2012, said at a press conference that his problems had "taken my joy of this game away".

One of the most hyped quarterbacks to enter the NFL in recent years, former first overall pick Luck certainly lived up to the billing when he was able to get on the field.

Here, we take a look at Luck's career in numbers.


171 - The former Stanford Cardinal tossed 171 touchdowns with the Colts. In NFL history, only Aaron Rodgers and Dan Marino threw more in their first 86 regular-season games.

40 - Of those 171, 40 came in 2014 when Luck led the league in touchdown passes. Only eight men have thrown for more in a single season.

53-33-0 - Indianapolis won 53 of the 86 regular-season games Luck started. The Colts won two AFC South titles in 2013 and 2014 and made the playoffs on four occasions in the Luck era.

4 - Luck was named to the Pro Bowl four times and last season he won the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year award.

20 - There were 20 game-winning drives in Luck's career. Only Drew Brees, Russell Wilson and Matthew Stafford have had more since 2012.

28 - The Colts were 28 points down to the Kansas City Chiefs in the playoffs when Luck engineered what was, at the time, the second-biggest postseason comeback of all time on January 4, 2014.

174 - Luck was sacked on 174 occasions in his career, with 156 of those coming in his first five years as a pro and 41 in his rookie campaign.

4,374 - The record 4,374 yards Luck threw as a rookie remains the leading mark of any first-year quarterback.

11 - Luck played the Tennessee Titans on 11 occasions in his career. The Colts won every single game. 

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