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Andrew Luck's athleticism concerns Bruce Arians?


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Andrew Luck's calm under fire during his rookie season with the Indianapolis Colts has been talked about largely because of what he's doing with his arm. His footwork has been no less impressive.

Luck ranks 10th among all NFL rookies (including running backs) with 159 yards on 34 carries -- five of those for touchdowns. The quarterback's decision-making about when to take off with the ball has been impressive. Half of those runs have generated first downs.

Luck's comfort on the move is endearing to the Colts, but he has taken some shots along the way. The NFL has fined four players for illegal hits on the rookie, something of which Colts interim coach Bruce Arians is hyper-aware.

"His athleticism puts himself in harm's way a lot," Arians told Mike Chappell of The Indianapolis Star. "You've got to be able to protect yourself out there and get rid of the football at times and other times just be tough enough to handle it. I'm not going to change a bit the way he plays or approaches the game because other guys get concussions."

Luck's ability to extend plays is akin to what makes Ben Roethlisberger so dangerous with the Pittsburgh Steelers. They're not the same guy, but Big Ben has rescued the Steelers' offense from countless jams by knowing when to take off with the football. Before Arians coached Luck, he guided Roethlisberger to two Super Bowl titles.

That might have something to do with the freedom Arians has handed Luck. More than a few have noticed the similarities between the offense the Steelers ran during Big Ben's early years and what the Colts are asking Luck to do today. The rookie has embraced it.

"Part of playing the position is extending the play," Luck said, "and I've always felt comfortable throwing on the run. Even at a young age in high school, I was always begging the coaches, 'Make one of the first passes a bootleg.' I like getting into a rhythm that way."

Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.