The end of the journey. Or, really, just the beginning.
That's how former Indiana State center FN Lutz described his emotions after signing a free-agent contract with the Indianapolis Colts on Wednesday morning.
After not getting drafted early last month, Lutz – a 6-foot-3, 290-pound offensive lineman from West Lafayette – didn't say no when he finally got the call from the Colts.
A preseason FCS All-America selection in 2013 after missing the previous season with a knee injury, he had attended several regional combines sponsored by the National Football League prior to the draft last spring, along with former Sycamore defensive tackle-turned-fullback Russell Jones.
Good enough performances in a pair of regional combines was followed by an invitation to the Super Regional combine in Detroit and a post-draft workout with the Chicago Bears.
But the process that saw him winding up wearing a blue No. 67 jersey during Wednesday's late-morning organized team activity (OTA) practice all began late last week.
“Last Thursday, [longtime Colts scout] Jon Shaw called me. [He] just wanted to get my contact [information]. On Monday, he called me back and asked if I could get over [to Indianapolis] for a workout on Tuesday. I said absolutely,” Lutz recalled Wednesday afternoon.
“I came over Tuesday, reported about 10:30 [a.m.], had a workout from 12:30 to 12:50. And then did well on that. Had some chalk talk with the [Colts] offensive line coach [Joe Gilbert], then went and got a physical. Came back [to Terre Haute] and was eating dinner when I got a call from [Indianapolis general manager] Ryan Grigson.”
It’s been a whirlwind week for the ex-Sycamore, who was formally added to the Colts roster Wednesday morning along with cornerback Johnny Adams. Indianapolis released a pair of rookies, quarterback Seth Lobato and cornerback Keon Lyn, in order to make room on the roster.
Lutz is just the latest former Indiana State player to be given an opportunity with the Colts. He follows defensive end/tackle Jordan Bright last year as well as safety Donye McCleskey, offensive guard Matt Griebel, tight end Jamie Petrowski and running back Derrick Franklin.
“[My goal] is, first, just to get better. I mean there's always room for improvement. But, yeah, I want to make the team, whether that’s practice squad or the 53-man [in-season roster]. I’ll take it in steps, but honestly the ultimately goal is the 53-man,” he stressed. “I know there’s steps to it. But I’ll take what I can earn.”
Working on the offense - It’s Year Two of Pep Hamilton’s stint as the Colts’ offensive coordinator.
Quarterback Andrew Luck, for one, likes the way the offense has progressed since the start of workouts last year. That includes how Indianapolis has done so far this year during OTA workouts.
“I don’t know if the mentality changes. I do think everybody is more comfortable with the plays and [the] dialogue might be a little different in terms of getting the nuts and bolts of certain plays. [But] I don’t think the mentality necessarily changes,” Luck stressed recently.
“We’re still going to want to run the ball. We’re still going to want to score points and be effective in the throwing game. I don’t think that will ever change really.”
One of the primary goals during this year’s set of OTA workouts has focused on getting the third-year Colts quarterback better acclimated with his young receivers, such as Da’Rick Rogers, LaVon Brazill and, to a lesser extent, former Stanford teammate Griff Whalen.
This time of the offseason also allows Luck to fine-tune his timing with key returnees like T.Y. Hilton, Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen. And it allows him time to get on the same page with former New York Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks, who was signed to a free-agent deal back in March.
Hilton returned to practice this week after nursing a sore foot at the start of OTAs. Nicks, meanwhile, sat out Wednesday's workout as he recovered from a root canal procedure.
Allen, though, seems to have picked up where he left off as a rookie in 2012. He missed most of last season with a hip injury.
“Everyone talked during the offseason about the Colts getting Dwayne Allen back. Well, I’m excited about getting the Colts back and being out there with the boys,” he said recently.
"Cautious. Not just because of the injury, but giving my body time to adjust back to the game. We don’t play until September and I’m fully aware of that, the coaching staff is and the training staff also. It’s a process. My body has to get used to it. I feel as if every day I got a little bit better and that’s what I expected.”