The Texans will face rookie quarterback Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday at Reliant Stadium. Luck, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 draft out of Stanford, is living up to his lofty expectations and then some in a historic rookie season.
On Wednesday, Texans head coach Gary Kubiak credited the young quarterback for helping lead his team to a 9-4 record after the Colts went a league-worst 2-14 in 2011.
"I think he's exceptional," Kubiak said. "He's as good a player as I've seen come out since (QB) Peyton (Manning) in all my years of studying. He's sure as heck hasn't disappointed.
"I told the team today he's playing like an eight-, nine-year football player when you watch him play. He's handling a ton of offense. He makes plays off-schedule, and the bigger the situation, the bigger (the play) he makes."
In 13 games this season, Luck has thrown for 3,792 yards, 18 touchdowns and 18 interceptions for a 74.5 passer rating. He already has surpassed Manning (3,739) for the Colts' rookie passing yardage record and is 259 yards away from Cam Newton's NFL rookie record (4,051).
The newcomer has led six game-winning drives in the fourth quarter and overtime, the most by a rookie since 1970. He has as many rushing touchdowns (five) as the rest of the entire Colts team combined.
"He looks like a veteran quarterback," Texans outside linebacker Connor Barwin said. "It's surprising, obviously, but this is a trend that's been happening since I've been in the league. You see a lot of the rookies now having success faster than they used to."
Luck has been sacked 32 times this season, but Texans defensive end J.J. Watt is impressed with his elusiveness and speed. Kubiak and several Texans players have compared Luck this week to Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for his ability to shed pass-rushers and extend plays.
"He's a good passer, but he also can do things with his feet that many wouldn't expect," Watt said. "He can get away from tackles, so you have to be weary of where he is at all times."
Luck, a Houston native and son of Houston Oilers quarterback Oliver Luck, played his last Stratford High School game at Reliant Stadium. He looks forward to returning to his hometown for the first time as a pro.
"It's always nice to go back to your hometown and obviously play a great team," Luck said. "I think everybody figured the Texans were going to be a heck of a team at the beginning of the year, as they've shown. It'll be a big game."