INDIANAPOLIS – Onlookers at Colts practices through the years are used to seeing offensive players wear one color jersey, while defenders wear a contrasting color.
The method traditionally is that offensive players wear the jersey color they will wear in the upcoming game. As long as the two units share the practice field, there have been no other colors, until now.
When the club took the practice field on Friday, three quarterbacks – Andrew Luck, Trevor Vittatoe and Chandler Harnish – wore red jerseys.
The departure from the past is an attempt to ensure the future, meaning the health of quarterbacks.
Head Coach Chuck Pagano, who termed the first practice day of Luck "monumental" is taking no chances that competitive juices could injure a piece that will help build a monster.
"We're not going to get this guy (Luck) hit," said Pagano. "The first thing I said in the team meeting (Thursday) was, 'Stay away from the quarterback, particularly the defensive guys coming through.' Everybody is anxious. Everybody is trying to do his best. Their motors are running hot right now.
"We want these guys to be smart. We want them to play fast. The last thing we want is somebody to come through on some type of pass rush and blitz…and get near any of these quarterbacks. We can't afford to get a guy hurt."
Luck was under the microscope of practice spectators on Friday. In addition to being peppered with playbook instruction, he was queried on the practice attire that has not been seen with the team in many years. He deftly handled the matter with a humorous tone.
"We didn't wear different colored jerseys at Stanford for the quarterbacks," said Luck. "I understand the value of it. I understand the philosophy."
Asked if he would have a problem with standing out from his teammates, again Luck used wit.
"I'll keep my mouth shut for the first couple of days. I'm sure you will (see me wearing a red jersey)," he said.
Second-round draft pick Coby Fleener also is from Stanford and shared many a practice field with Luck. When ask if Luck ever wore red at Stanford in practice, Fleener kidded by saying Luck wore either red or white by nature of the school's colors. When the question was re-worded about if the quarterback ever were designated in a color that contrasted with teammates, Fleener said Luck, as always, follows protocol.
"He didn't wear a special jersey, no," said Fleener of Luck at Stanford. "That's a coaching staff preference, and Andrew will do whatever the coaching staff asks of him."
Fleener continued to display the same humorous approach as did Luck when asked if he could imagine somebody hitting the rookie signal-caller in practice when they shouldn't.
"I would hope not, because they would have a whole lot of guys jumping on them if that is the case," said Fleener.
As for what he saw from Luck in his first professional practice, Fleener was used to the top-notch performance.
"He is the same Andrew, and he is as brilliant as ever," said Fleener. "We went out and he is calling plays that are 30 words long off the top of his head. He is amazing."