PITTSBURGH, UNITED STATES // Mike Tomlin is not a coach who impresses easily. Even the most dominant performances by his Pittsburgh Steelers are often met with a shrug of the shoulders and a promise to get better.
Still, even Tomlin could not help but be wowed - at least a little bit - by what he saw from Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck last week.
All the top overall pick in April's NFL draft threw a touchdown on his first pass as a professional and spend his four series on the field lighting up the St Louis Rams in a 38-3 pre-season victory.
"I thought he played really well," Tomlin said. "I don't mean played really well for a rookie. I thought he played really well."
An encore, however, figures to be tougher Sunday night against the Steelers.
Pittsburgh's first-string defence played sparingly in their pre-season opener against Philadelphia.
Expect players like Troy Polamalu, LaMarr Woodley and Lawrence Timmons to give Luck a lengthy look at the defence that finished top in the league yet again last season.
"It'll be fun," Luck said. "I realise every defence is good in the NFL, in my mind. But to have a chance to go against a great historical defence, a great franchise, with a great fan base, will be fun."
Just, the Steelers hope, not for long.
Though veterans Casey Hampton and James Harrison remain sidelined by injuries, defensive end Brett Keisel is back after missing the opener to be with his wife for the birth of their third child.
Bruce Arians, the Indianapolis offensive coordinator, spent five seasons in the same position with Pittsburgh before being let go in the off-season.
The exit was not exactly graceful.
The team announced Arians "retired", though the sabbatical - whether self-imposed or not - lasted less than two weeks before the Colts asked him to mould Luck into Peyton Manning's successor.
Arians developed a close relationship with Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger during his tenure with the Steelers.
It is a little too early to tell if Luck and Arians will develop a similar chemistry, though Arians has already been won over by Luck's no-nonsense approach.
Asked what he likes about his new project, Arians said: "His poise, his excitement for the game.
"Nothing surprises me about him anymore. I kind of expect it now."
[ @SprtNationalUAE ]