INDIANAPOLIS – Friday marked the fourth time rookie quarterback Andrew Luck darkened the doorway of the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.
Luck visited the facility once prior to the draft, once last weekend just after being selected and yesterday in visiting the facility hours before the club's three-day rookie camp opened.
Today's visit was different in nature while having a purpose that will become second nature in future visits – he took the field and practiced with teammates.
"It was good to be with the guys and start building the on-field relationship, be able to call a play and run it and see it work, said Luck. "It was a lot of fun, a lot of excitement."
Head Coach Chuck Pagano was toiling at the University of Miami the last time a quarterback selected first overall by the Colts (1998) took to a rookie camp practice field.
Pagano observed that moment first-hand himself now as the field leader in Indianapolis. He said he is not the only person on whom the significance registers.
"I think everybody can (feel the significance)," said Pagano. "I think the fans can, all the people around the state, these coaches, these players (can). It's monumental.
"We talked about it before. We saw the same thing happen 14 years ago (with Peyton Manning), and what happened after that pick. We feel great about him (Luck). Everybody else feels great about him. He's a natural leader. It's a great start."
Luck has been the center of attention for quite some time, well before draft day and certainly since. He took a low-key approach to his first on-field work.
"I didn't get too melodramatic about it," said Luck. "It is a practice, and I've done it a thousand times. It is a little different. You're in a different locker room, in a different jersey. It wasn't too monumental in my mind."
He was one of about 40 rookies making a debut, hoping to make a good impression and learning as fast as possible a new culture, playbook and teammates. Emotions were part of the equation.
"I was a little tired, to be honest, with the West Coast time difference," said Luck. "I was excited, sort of amped up, definitely nervous as well to get out there and put your best foot forward on hopefully a long NFL career.
"It's always nice to get on the field, get out there and sort of get the jitters out, make sure you're going to get the finished snap okay, make sure you can still throw the football, all that good stuff. I was a little nervous. I didn't blow it up in my mind and make it a bigger deal than it is. It's practice. It is the first one. I was a little nervous."
If Luck felt a bit nervous for his first time on the field, Pagano was at ease with what he saw from his gifted pupil.
"Zero," said Pagano about how much uneasiness he saw with Luck. "He's unflappable, mature beyond his years. You listen to some of the play calls (Offensive Coordinator) Bruce (Arians) gave him and I know why he's an architectural engineer. He's going do great once he's done with this in about 15 years."
Pagano and the coaching staff threw a heavy load at the entire roster. Rookie camp is a time for acclimation and learning. Pagano saw Luck absorb the information being hurled his way. He is not surprised at how well Luck adapted.
"That's why we took him. We saw those same traits, coming up in college and the system he came up in, being in the pro style offense he was in and how it was really natural for him," said Pagano. "Sitting in a team meeting, sitting in a quarterback meeting, sitting with the offense then coming out here and be able to digest the information he did and be able to call the plays he called, it's a lot. There are four-to-five runs (the coaches) put in, a dozen formations, motions and shifts, protections, more than a dozen pass concepts. There were a few glitches out there but for the first day, it was phenomenal."
Luck never has backed down from a competitive or intellectual challenge. The volume of in-coming information was a welcomed assignment.
"I sort of like being thrown in the fire a little bit and just handling stuff," said Luck. "Like Coach Clyde (Christensen) was saying, 'Throw a bunch of mud on the wall and see what sticks. Drop some more, throw it on…...' I like that."