Andrew Luck has a deal with the Colts ... finally

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Andrew Luck has a deal with the Colts ... finally

From Comcast SportsNet
Rest easy, Colts fans. The Andrew Luck era can now officially begin. The Colts signed the Stanford quarterback and No. 1 overall pick in the draft to a four-year, 22.1 million deal on Thursday, "12 is officially signed!!!!!!" Colts owner Jim Irsay tweeted, adding a photo of Luck signing his contract for good measure. Luck's agent and uncle, Will Wilson, confirmed the deal had been completed. The deal is similar to the one signed by Cam Newton a year ago and the one signed this week by Robert Griffin III. Newton, last year's top pick, has a four-year, 22 million deal with Carolina and Griffin, who went No. 2 behind Luck in April's draft, signed a four-year contract with the Washington Redskins worth 21.1 million guaranteed, with a club option for a fifth year. Whatever the terms, Colts fans can look forward to seeing Luck behind center this season, brought in to help the proud franchise rebound after last year's horrible skid. The injured Peyton Manning never played a down and now he's gone, off to Denver for a fresh start with the Broncos. Indy gets a rare opportunity to transition from one star quarterback to another. Luck threw for 35 touchdowns last season -- breaking his school record of 32 in 2010 -- and eclipsed John Elway's career record (77) at Stanford with 80 touchdown passes in only three seasons. He finished with 3,170 yards passing, a 70 percent completion percentage and only nine interceptions without the benefit of an elite wide receiver in 2011. He was the Heisman Trophy runner-up -- twice. Luck has a pretty good idea what to expect beyond wearing a No. 12 jersey for the Colts. He will be expected to help lead the team back from a 2-14 season that included an 0-13 start with Manning out recovering from neck surgery. Irsay cleaned out the front office and changed coaching staffs in January and February. Bruce Arians was Manning's first NFL quarterbacks coach and he's back as Indy's offensive coordinator, and former Indy offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen is now the Colts quarterback coach. There's a new general manager in Ryan Grigson and a new coach in Chuck Pagano. But Luck is the cornerstone in Indy's biggest overhaul since Manning was drafted in 1998. He is expected to start immediately after playing in a pro-style system at Stanford, where he was originally tutored by former Colts quarterback and 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh. After drafting Luck, the Colts picked tight end Coby Fleener, his Stanford teammate, in the second round. They got another tight end in Clemson's Dwayne Allen and speedy receiver T.Y. Hilton to go with Reggie Wayne. Still, there were a lot of player moves, too. The Colts released Manning on March 7 rather than paying him 28 million. Two days later, Indy cut defensive captains Gary Brackett and Melvin Bullitt and former Pro Bowlers Dallas Clark and Joseph Addai. They lost longtime center Jeff Saturday and emerging receiver Pierre Garcon in free agency and dipped into free-agency to improve a leaky defense and an unproven offensive line. The biggest challenge in 2012, like it was in 1998, will be breaking in a new quarterback.

Penn's only sack allowed last season got Carr hurt; 'That play sticks with me'

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Penn's only sack allowed last season got Carr hurt; 'That play sticks with me'

Donald Penn was nothing short of awesome last season. The veteran Raiders left tackle proved impenetrable, allowing just one sack and 27 quarterback pressures in 676 pass-blocking snaps.

He ranked high among the NFL’s best left tackles at 33, engulfed a career renaissance that began after joining the Raiders three years ago. Penn made the Pro Bowl. He was a vital piece of a 12-4 team that helped the Raiders reach the playoffs.

He hasn’t reveled much in that. Penn’s driven by opportunities missed, and one mishap that haunts him still.

Penn locked horns with Indianapolis linebacker Trent Cole off the left edge during a Week 16 contest against the Colts, and slipped as he was tracking his man away from the pocket. Penn’s feet got tangled and the big man fell. Cole remained upright, darted in and sacked quarterback Derek Carr.

It was Penn’s only sack allowed all season. And Carr got hurt. He suffered a broken fibula that ended his season and realistic hopes of a Raiders playoff run.

Nearly five months have passed since that fluke play. Carr is healthy and a full participant in the Raiders offseason program. The Raiders offensive line might be better after allowing a league-low 18 sacks last season.

There’s plenty to be excited about as the Raiders enter OTAs and a mandatory minicamp. Penn can’t help but lament that isolated incident when Carr went down.

“You have to be an athlete. You try not to think about it too much,” Penn said Tuesday. “You wish you could go back and get it back. I’ve taken that same set I don’t know how many times, on the same field and never just slipped out of nowhere. I’m not going to put it on myself. I should have been able to do something better. You know me, I’m never going to blame the slip for happening. I should have blocked him and held on to him and taken him down with me. That play sticks with me.”

That isn’t all bad. It fuels Penn to continue growing as a player, even at 34 coming off an excellent Pro Bowl season.

“I’m going to try to do what I can do better and make sure it never happens again,” Penn said. “I’ve never gotten a quarterback hurt in my life since I’ve been playing. That was a first. That’s something I take pride in. I’m going to try my hardest to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”

Penn wants a different ending to this season. Last year the Raiders lost the AFC West crown and a shot to win the team’s first playoff game. Penn suffered a knee injury the following week that kept him from playing in the postseason.

The goal is to realize vast potential now that the Raiders offense is back healthy again.

“I’m all about karma and stuff like that,” Penn said. “Maybe (God is) trying to tell us that this is our year. We have to put in the work to get it. I know D.C. is happy, I’m dang sure happy to get him back. We’re growing and masterminding this offense trying to make it as explosive as possible.”

Mariners designate former Giants pitcher for assignment

Mariners designate former Giants pitcher for assignment

CHICAGO -- Chris Heston was hopeful a move to a new organization could give his career a jolt. It hasn't worked out that way.

The former Giant was designated for assignment on Wednesday by the Mariners, who earlier acquired an outfielder from the Astros and needed the roster spot. Heston was traded to Seattle at the winter meetings for a player to be named later. The Giants have not yet picked that player off a list the teams agreed to.

Heston had a 3.95 ERA as a starter for the Giants in 2015 and threw a no-hitter at Citi Field, but he had trouble transitioning to relief the next season and dealt with an injury in Triple-A. Needing a roster spot in December, the Giants traded him.

Heston started Sunday for Seattle and gave up six earned runs in three innings. He allowed five earned in two innings in his previous appearance.