The first thing Andrew Luck noticed about rookie guard Quenton Nelson was his back.
He calls it the biggest he’s ever seen. And he’s not the only guy doing double-takes of his new Chuck Foreman Jersey , massive personal protector.
Veteran guard Matt Slauson talks about Nelson’s expansive shoulders and enormous chest. Longtime left tackle Anthony Castonzo dubbed Nelson an immovable refrigerator on reporting day.
Regardless of the description, they seem apt for the newest addition to another revamped Indianapolis Colts offensive line.
”At guard, you want one of those people that if he’s walking down the street and someone comes and runs at him full speed, that person is going to get knocked out,” Castonzo said. ”He’s got that ability that when people run into him, they move, and he doesn’t.”
The Colts have spent years searching for someone with Nelson’s punch.
Andrew Luck took more than 400 hits from 2012-16, the highest total among quarterbacks in the league, and has been sacked an astounding 156 times in 70 career starts.
All those shots finally caught up with Luck. He missed nine games with assorted injuries in 2015, made 15 starts in 2016 despite playing through shoulder pain and missed all of last season to rehab from surgery for a partially torn labrum in his throwing shoulder.
If it wasn’t obvious Indy needed to invest in protecting Luck after he signed a $140 million contract extension in 2016, three consecutive seasons without a playoff appearance made the next step clear.
So the Colts went big.
They selected the 6-foot-6, 330-pound Notre Dame linemen No. 6 overall in April’s draft – the first guard selected that high in more than two decades.
He has not disappointed at training camp. Nelson has already shown c he’s capable of stoning more experienced defensive linemen, using his flexibility and balance to keep his body in front of pass rushers and flicking away opponents with a quick swipe of his strong hands.
”There’s a reason an offensive guard was picked sixth overall,” said Jack Mewhort Jim Kelly Jersey , the Colts’ former starter and a second-round pick in 2014. ”Obviously, we haven’t played the game yet, but from everything I’ve seen, he’s lived up to it so far. He’s the man.”
The first real test comes Aug. 9 at Seattle. But Colts fans got a glimpse of what to expect when the Colts put on full pads for the first time last weekend.
In Saturday’s one-on-one drills, Nelson managed to recover from the initial punch of a 305-pound defensive tackle then stood his ground and drove the defender backward.
General manager Chris Ballard and coach Frank Reich expected nothing less after watching his college tape and hearing him explain his goal would be breaking the will of an opponent.
”He just brings a lot of power, but then you’ve also got his young, bulldog tenacity that is a lot of fun and fun to watch,” said Slauson, now in his 10th NFL season. ”I don’t have a lot of the athletic tools he has, but I consider myself a big-bodied guy and I like to bring kind of a nastiness myself. What I am going to try and do with him is help him grow in the game as fast as he can.”
Nelson and rookie guard Braden Smith, a second-round pick, could change the whole complexion of the franchise.
With Luck signed through 2021 and center Ryan Kelly, a first-round pick in 2016, coming back from an injury-plagued second season Cory James Jersey , Nelson and Smith could help the Colts plug what has been a leaky interior line.
”Ryan has been a big help for me,” Nelson said. ”He’s the smartest guy in the room. He knows all of the assignments. He’s been a huge help for me on and off the field.”
Instead, Nelson lets his play, intensity and size speak for themselves.
”He did approach me in the hallway (Saturday) and I was a little shocked because it was the first day in pads,” Reich said, laughing through his answer. ”I won’t get into the details of what he was saying exactly, but let’s just say he was excited to be in pads.”
Notes: Tuesday’s practice was moved inside because of rain, but Reich said he thought the Colts reacted with energy and emotion. Longtime center Jeff Saturday attended the workout. … Austin Howard, who should battle for the starting right tackle job, was activated from the nonfootball injury list Tuesday. Reich said Castonzo (hamstring) and starting safety Clayton Geathers (offseason knee surgery) were ”real close” to being activated from the physically unable to perform list ”very soon.” … Linebacker Anthony Walker is expected to miss several weeks after injuring his groin during Sunday night’s practice.
LeBron James scored 13 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter and brought Cleveland Cavaliers back from a 17-point deficit to stun the Washington Wizards 119-115 on Thursday night and maintain the No. 3 playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Cavs trailed 104-87 with 7:35 left before storming back behind James, who added 14 assists, nine rebounds to give coach Tyronn Lue a win in his return after missing nine games due to health reasons.
Jeff Green added 21 points and Kevin Love had 16 for the Cavs, who are 10-1 since March 17, when Lue was forced to leave a game in Chicago with ”piercing” chest pains.
It took another of those patented James’ comebacks to down the Wizards Patrick Kerney Jersey , who have dropped seven of nine and are in a three-way battle with Milwaukee and Miami for playoff positioning.
Washington’s John Wall looked more like his speedy All-Star self in his third game back from knee surgery, scoring 28 points with 14 assists. But he had a costly turnover in the closing seconds and the Wizards couldn’t put away the Cavs down the stretch.
A basket by Markieff Morris gave the Wizards a 110-100 lead with 3:16 left, but James scored six straight, fed Green for layup, and Rodney Hood made two free throws to complete a 10-0 run by the Cavs.
Green’s two free throws – on a tough call against Washington – gave the Cavs a 116-115 lead, but after Walls missed a short jumper, James split a pair of three throws, giving Washington one last chance.
Wall drove the lane but his twisting pass back outside was stolen by rookie Cedi Osman, who made two free throws to close it out.
ROCKETS 96, TRAIL BLAZERS 94
HOUSTON (AP) – Chris Paul hit an off-balance layup with 0.8 seconds left to lift Houston past Portland.
Paul scored 27 points to help Houston get its second straight victory since a loss to San Antonio. The Rockets swept their four-game season series with Portland.
Portland’s Damian Lillard sat out after spraining his left ankle Tuesday against Dallas.
The Rockets led by 24 in the second quarter and still had a big lead with about five minutes left before the Trail Blazers went on a 19-2 run to tie it at 94-all with 6.1 seconds left.
James Harden, who finished with 24 points, missed two free throws with 13.3 seconds left before Pat Connaughton tied it with a short basket.
Paul made the winner before crashing to the court. It gave Houston its first points since Harden made a basket with just less than four minutes left. Portland had a chance to win it at the buzzer, but C.J. McCollum’s 3-point attempt was off. McCollum led the Trail Blazers with 16 points.
PACERS 126, WARRIORS 106
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Bojan Bogdanovic had 28 points Kalen Ballage Jersey , Victor Oladipo scored 14 of his 21 points in the second half and the playoff-bound Indiana beat Golden State.
The Pacers have won six of seven, including twice against the short-handed defending NBA champions. It’s their first season sweep over the Warriors since 2011-12.
Kevin Durant had 27 points, five rebounds and seven assists, but Golden State’s three-game winning streak ended. Klay Thompson had 16 points before being shut out in the second half. The Warriors were swept by an Eastern Conference team for the first time since Charlotte did it in 2013-14.
NETS 119, BUCKS 111
MILWAUKEE (AP) – Allen Crabbe scored 25 points and hit two 3-pointers in the closing minutes of a tight game, and Brooklyn Nets shot 48 percent from behind the arc to beat Milwaukee.
The sharpshooting Nets were 19 of 39 from 3-point range, dealing a blow to the Bucks‘ hopes of moving up from the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
Crabbe was clutch by hitting two of his five 3s over the final three minutes, the second coming with 1:18 left to give the Nets a six-point lead that sent Bucks fans to the exits.
Khris Middleton scored 31 points, and Giannis Antetokounmpo had 19 points and 10 rebounds for Milwaukee.
JAZZ 117, CLIPPERS 95
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – Donovan Mitchell scored 19 points, Rudy Gobert had 15 point and 10 rebounds and Utah beat Los Angeles for its fourth straight victory.
Derrick Favors scored 16 points, and Jonas Jerebko and Alec Burks each had 13.
The Clippers were playing for their playoff lives but the Jazz displayed the intensity and urgency from the opening tip and never trailed. L.A. trails eighth-place New Orleans by 2 1/2 games with just three to play. ustin Rivers led Los Angeles with 19 points, and Montrezl Harrell had 17.
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