Twentyman: Five things to watch for on the road to Sunday

Posted Nov 29, 2012

Andrew Luck, Jerry Rice's record, Dwight Freeney, the Colts' injury report and Titus Young.

Colts rookie quarterback Andrew Luck was sacked four times in a win over Buffalo last week, which bumps his season total to 26.

At his current pace, he would finish with 38 sacks taken this season.

Luck has taken his fair share of shots this season. According to the Indianapolis Star, seven of those hits have resulted in defenders being fined by the league.

"I've never felt that I've been unfairly targeted by anybody on the defense," Luck said in a conference call. "And I also realize that hopefully I'll continue to learn through experience about how maybe to not take a hit, about throwing a ball away or sliding and what have you.

"I know I've put myself in vulnerable positions every now and then to get hit."

When pressured, Luck has proven that he can make some bad decisions (13 interceptions).

The Lions have 25 sacks, led by Cliff Avril's 7.5. Defensive tackle Nick Fairley has come on lately with three sacks over his last three games. Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh has 4.5.

"I think they're a great front four, you know, obviously really probably seven, eight guys that play at a high level up there," Luck said of the Lions. "And really good players all around. I think very good in the red zone which will be tough for us to get points so it'll be a tough matchup."

Lions receiver Calvin Johnson aims for his fifth consecutive 100-yard receiving game on Sunday. Over his past four games, Johnson has 32 catches for 619 yards (154.8 per game) and three touchdowns.

Unfortunately, the Lions have just one win over that span.

Johnson is hot on the heels of the NFL single-season receiving yards record set by Jerry Rice in 1995 when he had 1,848 yards.

Johnson needs 591 yards over these last five games to break the record or an average of 118.2.

He seems to be getting healthy at the right time to make a run, too. Johnson was no longer listed on the injury report with a knee.

The stat sheet says Colts outside linebacker Dwight Freeney is having a tough time adjusting to the Colts' new 3-4 scheme.

The 11-year player has only two sacks through 11 games this season after reaching double-digits in seven of his previous 11 seasons.

Lions head coach Jim Schwartz isn't buying it, though.

"Just getting ready for the Colts and we're sitting there watching Dwight Freeney and watch him just affect the game on just about every play and really raising hell as a pass rusher … and he has two sacks on the season," Schwartz said.

"I mean, what do you judge on? Do you judge on what he's doing on tape? Because based on tape we are going to have our hands full with Dwight Freeney. Based on the stat sheet you wouldn't even pay a second thought to 93 -- but we certainly are."

It's the same kind of thought the Colts should have with Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. The stats haven't reflected just how good he's played the last two weeks.

"I think defensive tackle play can be looked at many different ways," Suh said. "You look at a guy like (49ers defensive tackle) Justin Smith. Everybody sees him as a pretty good dominant defensive tackle and his sacks are down.

"I believe he's only at two or something. But he has a huge effect and the guy that feels his effect and I'm sure he would say that is Alton Smith. He's at 16.5 or something like that so as a defensive tackle he's making a big impact, but he's numbers won't always show it."

Keep an eye on the Colts' injury report this week.

They're expecting to get cornerback Vontae Davis back from a knee sprain that has kept him out of the lineup for four games.

He would help the Colts' 19th-ranked pass defense (233.8 yards per game) as they face the No. 1 passing attack in the league in the Lions (312.5).

Tight end Coby Fleener (shoulder) is also expected to return after missing the last month with a shoulder injury.

The Lions welcomed receiver Titus Young back to practice on Wednesday, but that doesn't mean he's out of the doghouse.

Young was inactive for last week's loss to the Texans because of disciplinary reasons and wasn't with the team at all last week.

"He needed and the team needed a little time away," Schwartz said. "And that's not the same with the other inactive guys. But again, it's not going to be based on what he does away from here, it's what he does when he's here with the team."

Young has to earn the trust back from both his head coach and his teammates before he can be expected to a contributor on Sundays.

"Too soon to tell," Schwartz said when asked if Young will be active Sunday. "We'll see as (we) get later in the week and who we think the best 46 to play the Colts are. If he's one of them, he will and if not then he'll go back to work and work the next week."

Young is scheduled to speak to reporters on Friday.