INDIANAPOLIS – One of the strengths of Colts football for years has been the ability not to look past the immediate task.
Andrew Luck was the latest Colt to do so Wednesday when asked about the impending OTAs that start next Tuesday – a progression of the off-season NFL workouts that now will allow offense-versus-defense action.
"We're not looking past tomorrow, said Luck. "We've got a big day tomorrow, so we'll take tomorrow as best we can and then get ready for going up against the defense when OTA hits."
Part of the reason Indianapolis has had 13 10-win seasons and playoff berths since 1999 lies in maximizing each chance to get better through work in the weight room and classrooms in addition to the playing field.
In last year's off-season work, almost 65 percent of the veterans had a participation rate exceeding 90 percent.
This year participation is no different as conditioning work gave way to on-field drills a couple of weeks ago, and the units have been honing themselves in preparation for next Tuesday's more intense agenda.
"We're not going against the defense per CBA rules, that's disallowed," said Luck. "We are running plays on air, working on our different styles of offense, working on route timing.
"That's probably the biggest focus with the wide outs, tight ends and running backs. It's been very productive."
Luck is one of the game's finest technicians, using every moment to sharpen his skills for competition. Never would it occur to him, or his Colts teammates, to utter the words, 'You're talking about practice.'
"It is very beneficial to (practice against) air," said Luck. "You've got to work out the kinks, the timing especially.
"As I've figured out in my short time in this league, timing is very, very important. People are very fast and that ball better be up and down, and those wide outs, they know how to get open, it's just up to us to get them the ball."
It is a razor-thin margin between winning and losing, between the average teams and the better ones. The teams that make footprints in January typically lay solid foundations in May.
"The workdays are limited, so you've really got to make the most of what you have," said Luck. "I think being in year two for everybody with Coach Pep and the offense, (we're) understanding it a little better. It gives you the opportunity to really get the anatomy of a play and understand why. It's fun to have those discussions and then be out on the field."
It has been a time for old and new with Luck during the off-season.
Dwayne Allen is back after playing but one game in 2013. The two have been working together to recapture timing that allowed Allen to top NFL rookie tight ends with 45 receptions in 2012.
T.Y. Hilton and Coby Fleener have been steady participants. Luck still has long-time battery mate Griff Whalen around, and LaVon Brazill and Da'Rick Rogers continue to mature after increased roles when Reggie Wayne departed midway through last season with a knee injury.
Wayne is coming along in rehab. "He looks fit, he looks healthy. I've said this before, he's a freak in everything that he does," said Luck. "There's no doubt in my mind he'll be back better than ever."
Luck has been hammering out practice reps with Hakeem Nicks, this third veteran free agent wide receiver addition in three years under center.
He also has Khaled Holmes snapping after the departure of Samson Satele. Satele opened the bulk of Luck's starts the last two years, so getting cohesion with Holmes is part of the landscape.
"Per rules, we're not allowed to be on the field getting extra snaps," said Luck. "As soon as we can, I'm sure we will.
"That center-quarterback exchange really starts everything. (It's) probably the most elementary, fundamental part of a play. When you fumble one, it stinks. We pride ourselves on making sure we get 100 percent of those, which we will no matter which center-quarterback combination is in the game."
In April, Luck said he had used this off-season break more to his advantage than his first one. He visited six-to-eight different countries, but gave himself "a solid month-and-a-half, two months to get back into football shape before this voluntary session."
He said his itch to get back actually started in March, meaning that itch is close to getting scratched even better on Tuesday.
"Yeah, it will be fun," said Luck. "There's always a little energy level that's ratcheted up a bit but you know, we're not looking past tomorrow."