ANDERSON –As quarterback Andrew Luck rises this morning, he is four days away from his preseason opener.
Luck has thrived on every level of play in his career, from Houston's Stratford High School to Stanford. As he set records at Palo Alto, many observers awaited his step to the next level.
Luck is inching toward that mark. He is approaching it like a true professional – by listening to his coaches, keeping an even-keeled mind and a strong work ethic.
That tact has served him well, and he has employed it religiously this week as people have asked him how he is doing.
"I can't believe it's so close," said Luck. "I really haven't thought about it too much. I'm still in the practice-by-practice mentality, training camp mentality. But it'll be a lot of fun."
Luck will follow the lead of his coaches in how much he will play. The matter still is being decided, but a reasonable target number of plays could be about 20 with the first unit.
"I have not talked to Coach (Chuck) Pagano or Coach (Bruce) Arians about it," said Luck. "Whatever they decide, I'll just go with the flow. They know a lot more about football than I do."
Luck has had his seven-on-seven and 11-on-11 passing numbers charted and published daily. There have been highs and times that were not as smooth, though throughout camp he has impressed coaches with his mental grasp and teammates with his leadership.
"I've been very impressed. Coming out of the draft everybody talked about how good he was going to be, but he's even exceeded those expectations," said tackle Joe Reitz. "He's so smart. He knows what to do. He's got great command of the huddle. That's his huddle. He's the commander and we are the troops. We're listening to him for the calls and going up there trying to execute them.
"He's a great quarterback and is going to be really good for a long time. That just makes us, the offensive line, know that we have to protect him and keep him clean because if we can do that, he's going to be really good back there in the pocket."
Asked Tuesday about the upcoming game, Luck said he was much more concerned with his next practice, but he did allow that being anxious will be a part of the mix, only because it always has been.
"When the time comes, I'm sure I'll have a little nerves," said Luck. "I'll be nervous. I think I'll have some butterflies. That's happened throughout high school and college, so I assume it'll be the same at this stage.
"I think it's sort of become a part of playing. You get nerves and you get out there and it all calms down, but to me at least, in my sight, it's a little healthy to be nervous before a game."
Luck prepares as thoroughly as any quarterback in recent memory. He will calm any nerves by peering at the task at hand.
"I just sort of focus on what you do, what do you need to control," said Luck. "I just focus on football."
Offensive Coordinator Bruce Arians is a masterful coach with quarterbacks. He helped break in the careers of Peyton Manning, Tim Couch and Ben Roethlisberger. In his 37 previous coaching seasons, Arians has been around all types of competitors. He is with Luck daily, and he will observe his pupil on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.
"That's part of the things I've got to find out," said Arians when asked how Luck would be on Sunday prior to the game. "We haven't been to battle yet. Same thing with Peyton (in 1998), it's like, 'Let's see what we have and feel it out.'
"Normally in pre-game I would look at Peyton and I'd know he didn't either need me to say anything to him, or we'd start talking about fundamentals to get his mind off of whatever he was thinking about and getting him thinking about his fundamentals because he'll work drills all the time. So we'd do a few drills, and then he'd be ready."
Training camp has been a learning time not only for Luck, but for the defense as well as it hones its 3-4 look. Aggressive practices mean Luck has seen more than just a vanilla defense. That will serve him well for Sunday when he will see a different color jersey across the scrimmage line.
"It's awesome to sort of have the kitchen sink thrown at you in different blitzes, different looks," said Luck. "It does make a difference to be able to see things unfold and go into the meeting room afterwards and say, 'Let's dissect this blitz. What are they doing here and why?' Great discussions start, and it's great practice for when you play the defenses Coach Pagano and Coach Manusky have been around."
Those close to him have commented how well Luck has mastered the nuances of his position and the playbook. Luck acknowledges progress, but he will keep at it since there is time to do so.
"(I'm) on the right track, definitely on the right track, nowhere near 100 percent," said Luck on his command of the offense. I don't know that it ever will be 100 percent, but on the right track.
"I'm not where I would want to be to start an NFL game. I think it's been sort of a steady, uphill grind. It's going definitely in the right direction."