California vs. Stanford, Aaron Rodgers vs. Andrew Luck
Tom Jones Tribune Star Correspondent
California vs. Stanford. Aaron Rodgers vs. Andrew Luck. A Pac 10 Conference battle in the making. That's a relatively easy way to preview Sunday's interconference game between the Green Bay Packers and Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Cal's Rodgers, the experienced NFL veteran who already has one Super Bowl MVP award under his belt, going up against Stanford's Luck, a rookie who was the No. 1 pick in last spring's draft.
Their styles are somewhat comparable. Both are big, mobile, and athletic quarterbacks who possess unique passing skills. Both can confound defenses with their legs as much as their arms.
There are also major differences. Rodgers was forced to sit and bide his time behind Brett Favre for several seasons at Green Bay. Luck, on the other hand, was immediately handed the reins of the Indianapolis offense.
The Colts first-year starter, though, quickly rejects any talk trying to compare the two. He does, however, admit to being a fan of Rodgers.
“I think I’ve got a long way to go to be compared to Aaron Rodgers. He’s definitely someone that I enjoy watching. His command over the offense, when a guy looks covered, Aaron’s always done a great job with back shoulder throws," Luck pointed out recently.
"When a tight end is running down the middle, putting it in the right spot or the only spot that it could be caught, and often times it is. It is a lot of fun to watch him play, watch him make plays with his feet as well. He’s a great quarterback."
Indianapolis interim coach/offensive coordinator Bruce Arians understands the comparisons, although he's not ready to go much farther than that.
“Very similar. Aaron’s very mobile, very accurate, got good velocity. Obviously he can handle a fast paced game or a slow paced game. I think they’re very similar in a lot of ways," Arians said.
"Their size, athleticism. They’re very similar. It’s a good comparison. When I said five star players [on the Colts earlier] this week, I wasn’t just talking about [outside linebacker Dwight] Freeney and [outside linebacker Robert] Mathis. Luck’s one of them too.”
Packers coach Mike McCarthy, meanwhile, likes what he's seen of the Indianapolis quarterback on tape.
“I think they are both guys that were born to play the position. That’s one thing as you watch Andrew Luck go through college, there is no surprise where he was drafted and that he started from the first day," McCarthy said in a teleconference.
"Aaron’s path was a little different. He had a chance to sit and learn. But, yeah, you are talking about two very talented individuals.”
Big crowd Sunday -- While the Colts and Packers matchup has already been announced as a sellout, Arians wants to make sure that the Indianapolis fans are prepared for the usual large turnout by Green Bay supporters.
The Packers travel well, which could make things interesting during Sunday's game. Arians hopes that the Colts faithful can drown out the expected Green Bay contingent.
“The one thing that I would like to say is this is a very special week for a lot of reasons. Having been against the Packers, I know how their fans travel and in no way can they come into Lucas Oil this week and take over our stadium. I’m challenging our fans, especially this week, because it’s kind of a unique, special thing," he said Thursday.
"That cannot happen. They need to be at an all-time high for Chuck and for the team. We cannot allow the cheese heads to come in here and take over. I saw it happen in 1999 in the [AFC wildcard] playoff game when the Tennessee Titans came in here and we had to use the silent count for Jevon Kearse and Kevin Carter. We can’t let that happen.”
Freeney is a maybe -- Outside linebacker Dwight Freeney went through a semi-full practice on Wednesday. His on-field activity was ramped up a bit on Thursday as he tries to get his sprained left ankle in good enough shape to play Sunday.
Freeney has been sidelined since the opening game of the season. He suffered a high ankle sprain early in the first quarter of the Chicago Bears game when offensive tackle J'Marcus Webb blocked low, taking down Freeney from behind. He limped off the field after the play and had not practiced regularly until this week.