John Elway knows exactly what Jeff George is going through.
"It's a big jump from college ball, especially when you make the kind of big money I made at the time and Jeff's making. People expect you to step in and make miracles happen," Elway said.
Like Elway, the first player taken in the 1983 NFL draft by the then-Baltimore Colts, George was this year's top draft pick by the Indianapolis Colts.
And like Elway, who has taken Denver to the Super Bowl three of the last four years, a lot is expected from George.
"I would tell him to keep his ears shut and don't listen to anybody except his coaches and do the best he can," Elway said of the Colts' $15-million rookie quarterback. "He's got the talent, and eventually it will come."
George, playing the last three quarters Saturday night, hit eight of 16 passes for 82 yards in his NFL preseason debut. He was also sacked three times for losses of 37 yards and had two passes intercepted in futile fourth-quarter drives as the Colts lost 16-7 to Elway and the Broncos.
Elway, who played only the first quarter, said George "did good for his first game. I think there's a lot of pressure coming on him right now coming into the league.
"He has to realize he's got to be patient with himself. It's going to take time to adjust," Elway said.
George's first impression of NFL defenses?
"They're bigger, faster and hit harder," he said.
"It's a matter of getting out there and getting a little more experience," George said. "We were pretty basic in the first half. I'm still learning, and we stuck to our game plan. The second half, I was more relaxed, and things started to happen. There was just good defensive play on their part.
"Obviously I would have liked to have won," George said. "But everybody's learning. We saw some good things and we saw some bad things. But I'm happy with the way I played."
Indianapolis Coach Ron Meyer agreed.
"I'm certainly not disappointed at all with Jeff George's performance," Meyer said. "It was a rough debut for him, but I saw flashes of greatness out there."
The loss "was certainly not as gloomy as it would appear, when you consider who we were playing. We still have some players who are not here, and I said all week that the advantage should be with Denver.
"So I'm not devastated by the loss," Meyer said.
Wade Phillips, serving as Denver's coach on an interim basis while Dan Reeves recovers from surgery for a blocked artery, said his game plan wasn't much different from what the Broncos' normally do.
"I'm just filling in," he said, "and trying to maintain what we have for a couple weeks. So there wasn't any added pressure."
"George had a tough time with what we were doing," he said. "We're a good defensive team."