News From Terre Haute, Indiana

May 5, 2012

All eyes on new Indy quarterback

Luck has first practice with Colts

Tom James
Tribune-Star Correspondent

INDIANAPOLIS — Day One of the Andrew Luck era went off without a hitch Friday at the Indianapolis Colts’ West 56th Street practice facility.

Luck, the Colts’ top draft pick and the first overall selection in last week’s National Football League draft, went through a pair of rookie mini-camp workouts along with Indianapolis’ nine other draft picks, 16 undrafted free agents, and a handful of returning players who have yet to accrue a full season in the league.

Also on hand was kicker Austin Anderson, the son of former NFL veteran kicker Gary Anderson, who is going through a tryout with the team. Anderson played at McGill College in Montreal. The younger Anderson was successful on 10-of-14 field goal attempts as a senior and made 36-of-46 attempts during his collegiate career.

All eyes, however, were on No. 12 in the red practice jersey, who attracted a big national media contingent to the workouts, including representatives from ESPN and the NFL Network. Luck certainly didn’t disappoint in his Colts debut.

During the afternoon practice, he completed 13-of-16 passes in team drills and 7-of-8 passes in 7-on-7 drills Of his three incompletions in the team session, one was due to miscommunication with the receiver, one was dropped and the receiver lost his footing with the third pass. His lone incomplete pass in 7-on-7 was on an overthrow.

Mini-camp workouts continue with a morning and afternoon session today. The final practice is set for Sunday morning.

n Pagano impressed — As the team went through a walk-through session Friday morning, the former Stanford quarterback was involved in every aspect of the practice to the delight of first-year coach Chuck Pagano.

“He is unflappable. Mature beyond his years. If you listen to some of those play calls that [offensive coordinator] Bruce [Arians] gave him, then I know why he is an architectural engineer. He is going to do great once he is done with this in about 15 years,” Pagano praised, adding that he wasn’t surprised by Luck’s leadership skills during the practice.

“It is why we took him, because we saw those same traits coming up from college in the pro-style offense that he was in. So it was really natural for him. Sitting in a team meeting, sitting in a quarterback meeting, sitting with the offense and coming out here and being able to digest the material and the information that he did, and then coming out here and being able to call the plays that he called, it is a lot. There are four to five runs that they put in, a dozen formations, motions and shifts, protections and more than a dozen pass concepts. There were a few glitches out there. But, again, for the first day, it was phenomenal.”

Tight end Coby Fleener, the Colts’ No. 2 pick and Luck’s former teammate at Stanford, wasn’t surprised either.

“He is the same Andrew, and he is as brilliant as ever. We went out and he is calling plays that are 30 words long off the top of his head. He is amazing,” Fleener said. “I think he leads by example. He has throughout his whole college career and I think he will do the same thing here.”

Nearly 14 years to the day when Peyton Manning first stepped foot on the practice field for Indianapolis after being the No. 1 pick in the 1998 draft, Pagano reflected on what it means to have another potential franchise quarterback on the roster.

“Absolutely, I think everybody can. I think the fans can, all the people around the state, these coaches and these players. It is monumental,” he said.

“We talked about it before. We saw the same thing happen 14 years ago and what happened after that pick. So we feel great about him and everybody else feels great about him. He is a natural leader. It is a great start.”

n Luck talks — Two rookie mini-camp practices down and three more to go for the new face of the Indianapolis franchise before he heads back to Palo Alto Sunday evening to finish up spring semester classes.

Luck will be done with school obligations on June 7. Until then, this weekend’s workouts will be his only official workouts with the Colts until a full-team mini-camp on June 12. He will squeeze in Stanford’s graduation ceremonies on June 17.

“To the best of my abilities,” Luck said Friday when asked how well he handled everything that was thrown at him during his first NFL practice. “There was a lot of information, and it is fun to be challenged like that, absolutely.

“I was a little tired to be honest with the west coast time difference. But I was just excited, sort of amped up and definitely nervous as well to get out there and put your best foot forward on, hopefully, a long career. I didn’t get too melodramatic about it. It is a practice, and you’ve done it 1,000 times. Yes, it is a little different, you are in a different locker room, wearing a different jersey, but it wasn’t too monumental in my mind.”

He hopes to set up workouts away from the Colts facility with veteran receivers Austin Collie and Reggie Wayne before he returns for the mid-June mini-camp.

“We are talking about it. I talked to Austin, Reggie. Also Quan [Cosby] and I’m sure I will talk to Donnie [Avery] as well, and try to work something out. As of now nothing is finalized,” Luck said.

“I know Austin is from Sacramento, which is a drive from the Bay Area. So I’m sure if he has a chance to go home that we will get together. I won’t make Reggie come to where I am, I will go to where he is.”