INDIANAPOLIS – The last time Colts fans heard from Andrew Luck was in the wake of a playoff loss at New England when he said he felt like a "lost puppy" when his second season was over.
After visiting six-to-eight countries since then, Luck is back in Indianapolis and ready to roll as off-season conditioning starts Monday.
"You do have to get away, at least in my mind you do, so I did," said Luck, who heeded Chuck Pagano's advice to decompress before returning in April to launch preparations for 2014. "I made sure I gave myself a solid month-and-a-half, two months to get back into football shape before starting this voluntary workout session.
"It's something I think I did better this year than last year. Every year, hopefully (I'll) continue to do better in balancing that time. I know getting away from football is as important almost as making sure your mind's fresh and clear as the training aspect."
Luck said his football itch returned in March, leading him to the feeling of, "I've really got to get this thing cranked up again."
Luck cranked successfully during his second season, directing the Colts to an 11-5 record and a second playoff berth under his command.
From 2012, he increased his completion percentage by five points, his rating by 10 and helped the club set a franchise mark with 14 turnovers.
When asked his biggest lesson from last year, Luck reverted to canine analogy.
"We did a great job during the regular season of limiting turnovers, then I think (seven) interceptions in the post-season plus a couple of fumbles. You can't win consistently that way," said Luck. "I've sort of been chewing on that bone for a while."
Luck threw for 443 yards and four touchdowns as Indianapolis rallied from 28 points down in beating Kansas City, 45-44. He had three interceptions, then endured four the next outing in New England.
"As great as the Chiefs win was, you can't expect to win throwing four interceptions. You can't win consistently turning the ball over. We'll focus on that and all the other areas we can improve on."
Luck kept a rapt eye on off-season moves that swept some teammates away along with bringing new ones on board.
In consecutive off-seasons, he has lost two veteran wide receiver additions – Donnie Avery and Darrius Heyward-Bey – and now he has gained Hakeem Nicks, twice a 1,000-yard performer.
"I haven't had a chance to throw with him. We've talked, though," said Luck. "He's a winner, a vet, a good football player. I'm very excited.
"Every off-season is key in building rhythm. That's one of the bigger focuses as a quarterback. (It's) either build on the rapport you have with guys like a T.Y. (Hilton) or Reggie. Also (it's) to integrate the new guys, sort of feel each other out football-wise. The work you put this off-season hopefully will pay dividends when the season comes."
Luck, no doubt, has kept tabs on Wayne, who accounted for 29-to-31 percent of Luck's career attempts, yards and touchdowns before injuring a knee last October.
Wayne and Pagano claim the veteran receiver is ahead of recovery schedule, and that would not surprise Luck.
"For the lack of a better word, he is a freak in terms health and what he can do at his age," said Luck. "(I'm) very excited for him to get back on the field. We all know he'll come back and produce probably better than he ever has."
**Luck (click here for photo gallery)** was at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center Friday hosting an event with Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health.
Luck, three teammates and nine alumni players were among workers who helped put about 500 children through a 'Change the Play' fitness routine.
It is an eight-week health and fitness challenge Luck developed with hospital experts.
"I've always enjoyed being around kids. It's fun," said Luck. "Hopefully, they get a little enjoyment out of it.
"What's been great is seeing some of the college kids out here, Butler and Franklin and IUPUI. It's fun for everybody."