News From Terre Haute, Indiana

April 25, 2012

Colts confirm that Luck is choice

Tom James
Tribune-Star Correspondent

INDIANAPOLIS — It’s official. The Indianapolis Colts will select former Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck with the first pick in the 2012 NFL draft Thursday night. While the decision to take Luck has been rumored and discussed by fans and the media ever since the end of the 2011 season, Colts general manager Ryan Grigson acknowledged the obvious Tuesday at the conclusion of the morning’s mini-camp practice. “In fairness to Andrew Luck and in fairness to the whole process of the media gauntlet he is going to be enduring the next couple of days, I thought it was the right thing to do to announce that we are going to take him [No. 1],” Grigson said in previewing the NFL draft, which gets under way Thursday night (8 p.m., NFL Network and ESPN) in New York City. “[We] didn’t the see the point in prolonging what the world already knows. It’s about Andrew and we wanted to do the right thing by him.” Luck was reportedly told during a phone call last week. Team officials, however, had been reticent about going public with their decision until the last few days. Coach Chuck Pagano, in his first availability to local media since the National Football Scouting Combine in late February, talked about Luck’s expected addition to the roster and expanded on Grigson’s comments. “We did our due diligence. We studied [Luck and former Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III] like heck. Everybody thought this was the foregone conclusion. Really, on behalf of [Luck], you try to make things a little bit easier on his part. Go ahead and make the decision. Go ahead, get it out there officially that he’s our guy,” Pagano said. “The intangibles are off the chart. You know the skill set. You’ve seen his body of work. He’s a gym rat. He’s a football junkie. He’s big. He’s strong. He’s physical. He can make every throw out there. He’s a great leader in his own way. We’ve got a great one. We’ve got a great one for years to come. So he’s another piece of the puzzle that we feel really good about.” Deciding on Luck to be Peyton Manning’s replacement as the face of the franchise and the quarterback for the future was paramount to the Colts’ rebuilding process. “I know this. At any level, if you don’t have a quarterback, it’s really, really hard to win. Especially in the National Football League,” Pagano voiced. “So I’m going to sleep well at night knowing that we have a quarterback for a long time.” • Getting started — Luck will begin his career with Indianapolis during the team’s rookie camp, which is slated for May 4-6. But he won’t be permitted to participate in the Colts’ organized team activities practices later in the month due to NFL rules, which prohibits draftees from practicing with their new teams until they take their final college exams. Stanford, where Luck attended school, is on a quarters academic calendar, which means that the quarterback is off limits until June 7. “He’s chomping at the bit, we’re chomping at the bit, [Offensive coordinator] Bruce [Arians] and [quarterbacks coach] Clyde [Christensen] and everybody on offense is chomping at the bit to get him here and get him going,” Pagano said. “Like I said, his football IQ is off the charts, and so I don’t think it will take very long for him to pick things up and get going. “[But] he’s gotta wait til he graduates. He’s taking two classes right now, and I think his graduation date is June 7. And so as soon as he graduates, he’ll come back out and he’ll get the mandatory mini-camp in and we have another rookie mini-camp after that. He’ll go home for graduation. He’ll go home on the 17th and walk with his graduating class. • Mini-camp starts — Indianapolis began a three-day voluntary mini-camp for the team’s veteran players Tuesday morning. The workouts, which are in helmets and shorts, conclude after a 10:30 a.m. session on Thursday. The Colts have two workouts today (11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.). Pagano came away pleased with his team’s effort after completing a three-week off-season conditioning program, which began earlier in the month. “Obviously, the energy is great. The enthusiasm is great. They’ve been here for three weeks now and this is going into week four. Obviously, it’s a voluntary mini-camp, [but] you’ve got great participation,” the first-year coach said. “They’ve been in the classroom, been running and been conditioning. Now what we’re trying to do is get them to take what they’ve learned in the classroom and come out here and apply it to an offense versus defense type setting.” Defensive end Dwight Freeney missed Tuesday’s sessions but is expected back Thursday. Running back Delone Carter (injury), tight end Brody Eldridge (illness), safety David Caldwell (injury) and linebacker Kavell Conner (injury) did not take part in the first day of work. “Dwight has been here the whole time. He had something come up and he should be here Thursday. His participation has been awesome. Brody went home sick [Tuesday]. He came in, went through meetings and had the flu so he went home sick. Delone has got something with a thumb that [the medical staff is] looking at right now. Until we hear further notice, we’re holding him back,” Pagano said. “[The mood at the practices have] been tremendous. They’re hungry. They’re really hungry. We called last year [2-14 record] an aberration. I think if they could play tomorrow, they’d play tomorrow. I love their enthusiasm and, like I said, their energy has been great [as well as] their participation. I asked [wide receiver Reggie Wayne] when the last time he participated in spring football was and he said “it’s been a few years, coach.” I can’t ask any more from these guys right now. They’ve done a great job.”