INDIANAPOLIS — "We have great leadership on this team. The veterans have helped these rookies. Some take their jobs. Others -- whether it’s on the field, in the classroom, or in the community -- these guys have all joined hands with these young guys because they know those young guys are their chance to get to the playoffs. So that kind of all spells team.”
With the Colts on the cusp of clinching a spot in the AFC playoffs -- a win today against Kansas City would secure Indianapolis' playoff aspirations -- Arians had a feeling that the franchise could turn its fortunes around with this rookie class.
"I knew we had the talent. [The question was] whether or not we could put it all together and maintain it, I think the greatest tribute I think to this bunch of guys is how well the next man has stepped up. Because it’s been I think we’re up to 14 now different new faces coming in and I think we lead the league in [injured reserve] guys," he said.
While Luck has gotten the bulk of the credit for the way Indianapolis has been able to turn around its won-loss record, as well as the majority of the media attention, Arians points to the contributions and development of Hilton and Brazill as rookie receivers.
"Thanksgiving to Christmas is when you want your young wide receivers to step in and have a major role. LaVon [Brazill] has started to increase his productivity. T.Y. [Hilton] has had more opportunities and obviously now is becoming a major factor in our offense but also as a punt returner. We always thought it was there, but you’ve just got to watch him grow," he pointed out.
"In Pittsburgh with Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown, we’d have never got to the Super Bowl without those two guys developing after Thanksgiving and making huge plays in the playoffs for us. I think these guys are now in a position, rookie year is gone, they’re in their sophomore, junior seasons now. So their roles have expanded each week.”