ANDERSON – Andrew Luck never has looked uncomfortable as an Indianapolis Colt.
Drafted April a year ago, Luck strode into town as one of the most complete quarterbacks to enter the NFL in a long time.
He was entering an NFL market that had seen quarterback greatness for more than a decade, though comparing him to Peyton Manning was not something anyone wished to do.
Luck himself said he likely would drive himself batty if he ever tried to live up to comparisons to Manning.
Indianapolis fans had so adored the finished product in Manning that it seemed to understand the need to let another young, outstanding talent take wing.
Luck responded with a wondrous rookie season, guiding the Colts to the playoffs (Playoffs?) – something few first-year quarterbacks ever had done.
He set a number of NFL rookie marks, eclipsing some set by Manning, and now he is bearing down on his second professional season.
That was the season (1999) Manning produced the first of his 11 playoff appearances. While Luck wants to have the same post-season destination as Manning in a second year, comparing the two now seems an odd thing to do.
Luck finished his Thursday practice and held court in a manner very different than ever before.
Never uncomfortable, he rarely was expansive. Never shy or dismissive, he never seemed as engaged as he was behind the podium of a makeshift area on the Anderson University campus.
His session was light and airy, almost a standup routine by a standup quarterback. His team was cooling off after another workout, and Luck was happy to talk a club he feels is on the right track.
"Yeah I do," said Luck when asked if he felt a progression. "You always want to be perfect every day. Perfect, perfect, perfect, that's something to strive for, but you never are.
"I feel as an offense we are on the right track, we are working hard, defense is working hard. I think the old adage, 'Iron sharpens iron,' I think that definitely applies. Guys on both sides of the ball are fighting their tails off out there and then coming back in here and talking about, 'Hey, you really got me on that one.' It's a great locker room atmosphere, but, yeah, I think we are on the right track."
Luck and his teammates have been working since April for this progression. He has been reunited with his collegiate coordinator, Pep Hamilton.
The offense Luck will direct is one in which he is in command – much like his predecessor, who directed a high-flying act with the Colts that built an extended winning culture.
The topic of his ease in the offense came up, and perhaps for the first time Luck mentioned Manning by name.
"I think any quarterback that comes up says, 'Man, you want to be like Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison,' or, 'You want to be like Peyton Manning and Reggie Wayne were and how prolific they were.'
"We've heard about balls wouldn't touch the ground through a whole practice. That's where we want to get to as an offense, and that's the benchmark that has been set. It would be awesome to do that.
"We know it takes a lot of work and it doesn't happen overnight, it doesn't happen by taking reps off, days off. Those are all true professionals doing it, so that's where I would love to get to with the guys here, and I am sure they feel the same way."
When he left the interview tent, there was a funny feeling. It was noticeable because he had us given a different peek behind the curtain than ever before.
It was a fun look, like kids looking through a knothole.
It was a young professional feeling good about his craft, the integrity of his teammates and the unison with which this team operated since camp opened.
It was just Luck in a different light.
We all know he grinds hard, is a team-first guy more than anything else, and he is growing into one of the game's greats.
The first week of camp wraps up Friday. He and his mates will be back at it on Sunday.
The Sunday following that – August 11 – is the preseason home opener. It will be the 300th game played in Indianapolis in what is the start of the 30th season locally.
There is symmetry to the occasion, and there is an offense that is creating harmony just north of the home base.
Here's tipping a cap to today and hoping that bright future is realized.