After 1 week, Colts QB Luck still has work to do
ANDERSON, Ind. (AP) - All week, Andrew Luck heard the rave reviews.
They came from former Colts coach Tony Dungy, Pro Bowl receiver Reggie Wayne, veteran defensive lineman Cory Redding and Adam Vinatieri, the best clutch kicker in NFL history. The consensus: Luck is no ordinary rookie.
Luck, the No. 1 overall draft pick, disagrees.
"It's always very nice when two guys of such high caliber (Dungy and Vinatieri) say those things, but I feel like a scrub rookie every day, so far,'' he said.
Luck, the $22.1 million man, took most of the snaps at practice this week, a trend that's likely to continue throughout camp and the regular season - and something few rookies get to do.
Most of those who have watched Luck this week have been impressed with the way he's handled the pressure.
Dungy praised Luck's decisiveness on the opening day of camp, saying Luck looked like a third- or fourth-year player. Safety Tom Zbikowski made it clear Luck certainly doesn't act like a rookie. Wayne applauded Luck's ability to throw a "strong'' ball, and almost universally, players and coaches believe Luck's intelligence is off the charts.
"Andrew's going to be good. He's going to be really good,'' Wayne said. "He's really smart. He knows what's going on around him. He understands the concept; he understands the terminology. He understands it all.''
Luck appreciates the compliments, but he's just trying to be realistic. Like most rookies, his early performances have been up and down.
Reporters who charted Luck's throws through the first six practices pointed out he was 122 of 162 with seven TDs in team drills. In Sunday's workout, he was 28 of 41 with five TDs.
Luck, who has been hyped as the most NFL-ready quarterback to enter the league since the Colts took Peyton Manning with the No. 1 overall pick in 1998, is worried about another number - five interceptions.
So when asked to grade his performance in Week 1, he responded bluntly: "Too many interceptions.''
He didn't throw any Sunday.
To correct the mistakes, the Stanford grad has been working overtime to review practice video and read defenses better. He's gotten a full immersion into how to play against the complicated 3-4 defense. He's spent countless hours memorizing the playbook and working with receivers on timing.
Yes, Luck has carved out a little time for a few other things.
He signed hundreds of autographs for gleeful fans when practice ended. He spent some time with his father, Oliver, when the West Virginia athletic director made an impromptu appearance Friday at Anderson University, a Division III school located about 30 miles northeast of the team complex in Indy. And, of course, there was that singing exhibition.
Otherwise, Luck has been a workaholic.
"Just because everything is installed (offensively) doesn't mean it's all down pat in an airtight lock,'' he said. "It'll be nice to be able to go back and say, `OK, we've run this play a couple of times now; now let's really get a good feel for it.' The communication has been great between all of the quarterbacks and coach (Bruce) Arians, so we'll definitely start giving our feedback a little more.''
After a dismal 2-14 season, team owner Jim Irsay cleaned house. He brought in Chuck Pagano, a first-time head coach; Ryan Grigson, a first-time general manager; and released Peyton Manning to give Luck a clear path to the starting job.
But Luck isn't the only player learning how to do things with these new-look Colts.
Of the 90 players on the current camp roster, 32 played with the Colts last season and some of those returnees, such as Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, are lining up in new places.
So far, Pagano has liked the results.
"I love where we're at on both sides of the ball,'' Pagano said when asked how the first week went. "I love where we're at on special teams. We've got a long, long way to go and you know they've bought into what we've talked about the whole time.''
The next step comes Aug. 12 when the Colts host St. Louis in their first preseason game, and Indy's new franchise quarterback knows it will take more than luck and praise to make a smooth transition from two-time Heisman Trophy runner-up to NFL star.
He has to keep getting better.
"On the right track, definitely on the right track,'' Luck said when asked how comfortable he is with the playbook. "Nowhere near 100 percent. I don't know if it'll ever be 100 percent, but on the right track.''
Notes: Colts players and coaches gathered near the middle of the practice field after practice Sunday and prayed for the family of Eagles coach Andy Reid. Reid's son was found dead in a dorm room Sunday morning. Pagano said the Colts "lost a family member, lost a brother'' and said that the NFL fraternity is one big family. General manager Ryan Grigson, who spent the previous eight years with the Eagles, issued a statement offering his condolences to the family. ... Receiver Donnie Avery, who has been beset by injuries the last two years, was hurt on a twisting TD catch Sunday. Avery watched the rest of the practice with an ice pack wrapped around his left thigh. Pagano said Avery may have an MRI but said the early diagnosis was that the injury did not appear to be serious.
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