INDIANAPOLIS – Last week was a busy time at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center with the NFL Draft and the pace did not slow down when the seven rounds ceased.
Indianapolis was busy literally from gavel-to-gavel in the process by selecting the first and last players – quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Chandler Harnish.
On Monday, Indianapolis announced the addition of 15 free agents who agreed to contract terms over the weekend – defensive end
All hands are expected in Indianapolis later this week when the Colts embark on a three-day rookie camp that serves as the first orientation for new players.
Luck, naturally, will draw a bulk of the attention this weekend. He is the third quarterback selected with the first overall pick in the club’s Indianapolis era, and the first since Peyton Manning in 1998.
The Stanford product is putting the final touches on his academic work and will attend this weekend’s camp, but nothing on site again until after June 7 when his studies end. Though May 14 is the date rookies can come in to start a seven-week program, Luck is not eligible because of Stanford being on the quarter system.
He will get on-site work for three days this weekend, then other efforts will have to take place at different locations.
“They (players) can get together anywhere but here,” said Head Coach Chuck Pagano. “If they want to go out (to California) and orchestrate something or if Andrew (Luck) wants to, on the weekend, go meet them somewhere else, then that is all within the framework of the rules.
“We can talk to him and we’ve got ways of getting information in his hands. We’ve given him enough stuff to where he can take back and start to dive into the playbook and start to learn the terminology, scheme and things like that. I think we are ahead that way.”
Owner and CEO Jim Irsay operates in numerous league circles, and he understands and supports the way the league works with universities. Both he and Luck look at the situation as a bump in the road, but not one that should have lingering effects.
“We continue to try and balance encouraging education, graduation and those things and also from a competitive standpoint not having rules that are too oppressive,” said Irsay. “It is something that we continue to look at all the time. You know what you have to deal with going forward. Ultimately, I don’t see it holding Andrew back, the way he picks up things and the amount of time we are going to have with training camp, preseason, etc.”
All parties support doing whatever is necessary within the rules to keep the necessary football education flowing, too.
“I think you try to be as creative as you can be,” said Irsay. “I would help facilitate that if need be with planes or helicopters or what have you to get these guys together. We do what we can to do it within the rules and to be aggressive in terms of having guys get together. … I know Andrew will do everything he can to get ready.”
Finishing his work on an architectural degree will not slow Luck down in cobbling together his Colts future.
“Absolutely, we’re trying to be very creative. I’ve gotten a couple of texts from Reggie (Wayne) about it. We’re trying to organize some things,” said Luck. “I’ll definitely talk to Coach Clyde (Christensen), Coach (Bruce) Arians and the receivers. I guess they are learning the playbook, too, right now, as well. It’d be nice to let that sink in with the guys, so they can help me with some of the stuff when we get together.”
As the draft unfolded, Pagano noted the excitement of current Colts wanting to welcome their new teammate. Luck texted to welcome former teammate Coby Fleener who was taken in the second round, and the new quarterback wanted to reach out to others, too. It signified the excitement everyone feels about building the program.
“What was great was that as soon as we took Andrew (Luck) my phone started blowing up from players on the current roster asking for his cell (number) to congratulate him and welcome him to the family,” said Pagano. “As we started picking players, obviously he (Luck) had (Coby) Fleener’s cell, but everybody else that we took he has been texting me left and right and asking for their cell numbers and trying to get in touch with all of those guys. We knew that all along. He is going to be a great leader that way.”
As for Offensive Coordinator Bruce Arians, he has no doubt Luck will assimilate himself as the lead signal-caller on day one.
“Ain’t no doubt,” said Arians.