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August 4, 2013

He's a 'gym rat'

Luck's teammate in college, Whalen fighting for spot on Colts roster.

ANDERSON — Thanks to Jon Gruden, no play is more associated with Andrew Luck than “Green Right Slot Spider 2 Y Banana.”

That’s the formation the former NFL head coach had the Stanford quarterback draw on the whiteboard last spring during an episode of ESPN’s “Gruden’s QB Camp.” The Super Bowl championship coach asked Luck to take the viewers through his read progressions on the play.

After the quarterback had finished, Gruden re-emphasized that the fullback was the No. 1 read and received Luck’s confirmation. Moments later, the coach rolled tape of a 2011 game between Luck’s Stanford Cardinal and USC.

The Cardinal ran Spider 2 Y Banana, and Luck ignored the open fullback. He threw instead to his “alert” route, the “Venus” receiver, and the pass was intercepted and returned for a touchdown.

The play has become so famous, it’s spawned its own parody account on Twitter. But if Luck knew it so well, why did he make the wrong read at a crucial moment?

Later in the show, Gruden suggested the cause was familiarity with the Venus receiver — Luck’s roommate Griff Whalen. He showed footage of the two hitting the alert route for big gains in previous contests and suggested the quarterback might have gotten a little too greedy.

Visitors to Indianapolis Colts training camp this summer understand why. It seems as though Whalen is always open.

The former Stanford walk-on is in his second training camp with the Colts and his college QB. Whalen led the team with 12 catches and 125 yards in the preseason last year despite suffering a foot injury in the second game at Pittsburgh that ultimately landed him on injured reserve.

Healthy now, Whalen has picked up right where he left off and taken the early lead in the race to be the Colts’ No. 4 receiver to start the season. That spot once belonged to LaVon Brazill, but he will start the year with a four-game suspension after a second violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy.

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