Can Andrew Luck match Cam Newton’s rookie campaign?

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton put up one of the greatest statistical rookie campaigns for a quarterback in 2011 —  just ask any Fantasy Football owner.

After his first preseason game, which his owner dubbed a “historic beginning,”  many are wondering whether Indianapolis Colts rookie quarterback Andrew Luck can duplicate Newton’s success — because living up to the Peyton Manning comparisons apparently isn’t enough.

“I think he can have a better season, I can see him throwing for 4000 yards, I know we get carried away based on one preseason game, but I can see it happen,” Mark Kriegel said on NFL Network’s “NFL AM” on Monday morning.  “What I don’t see is him having that distinctive stat-line, the running for 700 yards and 14 (rushing) touchdowns.”

Newton threw for 4,051 yards and rushed for 706. He added 21 touchdowns through the air to go along with a record-setting 14 rushes into the end zone.

The obvious difference physically is Newton’s ability to make plays with his feet. When Luck gets out of the pocket, he continues to try and make a play with his arm.

“NFL AM” analyst Steve Wyche said that while the stats might not be comparable, Luck could have a better year leading his team.

“Individually I think it’s going to be different, but I do think that the Colts could actually win more games than Carolina did last year,” he said. “Their defense, they got some pieces in place on that side, they got (Dwight) Freeney and (Robert) Mathis, as long as those guys stay healthy. They don’t play in nearly as tough a division as the Carolina Panthers did.”

Luck doesn’t have the running game Carolina had last season (third overall in the NFL) and he doesn’t have a Steve Smith security blanket (sorry, Reggie Wayne is no longer in Smith’s category). So he will have to carry the Colts for every yard.

The truth is Luck doesn’t have to duplicate Newton’s 2011 season, he wasn’t drafted for one year, but to excel for the next decade.

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