INDIANAPOLIS –Andrew Luck has passed through the same checkpoints that all NFL rookies have navigated to this point of the year.
The focus on him, as it was in college, has been a little different than it has been for others. The first pick of the 2012 draft has handled it adeptly, and he has worked his way to within a few hours of the opening of training camp.
Luck is signed, sealed and delivered – and ready for action.
"It's nice to officially be a Colt and get ready to gear up for training camp," said Luck in his first comments this week. Since being away from the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center for about a month, he has completed his contract matters and found time to work with a handful of teammates.
With all that has gone on in Luck's world, he notices the support around him. He also recognizes his top priority.
"I feel very blessed to be surrounded by great people – parents, (my) agent, the whole agency," said Luck. "Everybody in the Colts' organization has gone out of their way to help me in any situation that may arise. Just not losing focus, it's football that matters at the end of the day. That's the main goal."
Focus, it seems, never has been an issue for Luck. After passing for more than 7,000 yards and 50 touchdowns in ranking as one of the nation's top prospects at Houston's Stratford High School, Luck embarked on Stanford career where he posted a 31-7 starting record and directed the school to 8-5, 12-1 and 11-2 records after the Cardinal had posted seven consecutive losing seasons. He topped 9,000 passing yards and 80 touchdowns in emerging as the top prospect in the draft.
Though academic commitments kept him from participating in a number of spring practices with Indianapolis, Luck toiled with the Colts rookies in early May and in a full-squad mini-camp in mid-June. He worked off the field in learning the playbook so his time with teammates on it met or exceeded the physical and mental pace.
"I wish I could have been out here more and gotten in all those other practices," said Luck. "I tried to stay somewhat on top of things as much as I could so I could come back in and not make a fool of myself in front of the vets and other rookies. I don't know if it went as smooth as I'd like. I was just happy to get in as many practices as I could."
Luck directed an attack at Stanford that functioned at a high level, and now he should direct an offense with the Colts that has the same aggressive nature. While adapting to a different level of play, Luck notes some basic similarities between his old and new playing environments.
"There are only so many routes in football, so many schemes. It's different languages completely between the two offenses. You find common ground," said Luck. "You say, 'This at Stanford is now called this (here).' Playing the matching game is something."
While Colts fans have not had many chances to lay eyes on Luck as he practices, one who person who had that chance daily for the past few years was Stanford assistant coach David Shaw. Luck impressed Shaw on a repetitive basis.
"He's like a vitamin – once a day he does something that just makes you say, 'Wow!' And it's been once a day for four years," said Shaw of Luck last year. "Every single day he makes a throw that you just go, 'Wow' and move on to the next play. You look at film that night and he's moving to his left, throwing 30 yards across his body. It's just stuff that other human beings can't do. He just does it and comes back to the huddle and says, 'What's the next play?' "
Luck will be under the tutelage of Colts Offensive Coordinator Bruce Arians. Arians was the Indianapolis Quarterback Coach from 1998-2000, the first three years of the Peyton Manning era. He worked with Tim Couch in Cleveland before moving to Pittsburgh in 2004, where he eventually served as coordinator for Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers' offense.
Luck likes the Indianapolis offense and the style of Arians.
"It's really a fun offense to be a part of," said Luck. "Coach (Bruce) Arians is incredibly sharp. He puts a lot on your plate, which is fun. I go out there (and have) great weapons, all the older guys, the wide outs led by Reggie (Wayne), new tight ends, it will be fun."
After the club ceased formal team practices in June, Luck was able to get together with a few of his receivers to continue working on timing and to build camaraderie. The work was necessary and he hopes that further indoctrination will pay dividends on the practice fields at Anderson this Sunday and beyond.
"Any time you can get reps with a receiver, it's going to help you out, whether it's a couple of passes here, or three days or whatever it is," said Luck. "To watch Reggie (Wayne) operate and see how professional he is in going about everything, sort of showing some of the young guys like myself the ropes of how he likes to operate when he's working out in the off-season…was very good and very beneficial. Hopefully, it will be helpful in training camp and when the season rolls around."
One of the final pre-camp activities in which Luck participated was a TeleForum with club season ticketholders on Thursday evening. Participants in the call had an opportunity to pose a question to Luck. Here are five highlights from the call:
Q: Did the time you miss this past spring hurt you very much?
LUCK: "I tried not to let it slow down anything. We made up some time getting together outside the OTAs (Organized Team Activities, which he missed) down in Miami and back here, trying to get reps in with the wide receivers. I don't think it was too large a setback. Training camp will be a cure-all for everything."
Q: How does it feel to have guys like Reggie Wayne and Austin Collie who have played in the league, along with having (former Stanford teammate) Coby Fleener?
LUCK: "It's great….to work with him (Wayne), see how he operates and see how professional he is. You try to pick his brain, 'Why do you run this route like this? Why do you do this like that?' (You do it with Austin) Collie as well. I have the continuity with (Coby) Fleener, but the other guys, too – (Dwayne) Allen and Donnie Avery. I think there will be a lot of contributors."
Q: What are your expectations? What would constitute a good season?
LUCK: "I think a good year is a Super Bowl. I'm a first-year player…I think we have a lot of great veterans. We're going to approach every game and try and win it…You don't prepare to lose….The work has been positive so far. The goal is to try to make the playoffs and have a chance to win a Super Bowl."
Q: How has Chuck Pagano been from a player's standpoint?
LUCK: "He's been great. He's very easy to relate to. He has a good sense for the pulse of the team, when he needs to be pushing hard and when he needs to pull back a little and give rest. He can relate to all the guys. He has a great football mind defensively. He's been great so far."
Q: How happy are you to be a Colt?
LUCK: "It is a dream come true. The more I've learned about the organization as I've been here, the more I learn about the city, the state, it's really something (I like). I never realized how special it would be to be a part of this organization. To wear a horseshoe on a helmet for practice has been great. I was a Peyton (Manning) fan growing up, so I watched a lot of Colts games. It always was my sister's favorite team. I think she likes horses (laughs). She always made sure the Colts were on TV. It's a true honor to be a part of this franchise. I couldn't be more thrilled."