Reggie Wayne and Austin Collie spent the last three months anticipating the arrival of their new quarterback.
They can’t wait to get started.
As most of the Colts players wrap up another mini-camp Thursday, Andrew Luck will be back at Stanford finally finishing his classes so he can get back to work in Indianapolis next Tuesday. It’s about time.
”I’m ready,” Wayne said Wednesday. ”As a receiver, you want your main quarterback to be there. At the same time, it doesn’t matter who’s throwing the ball, your job is the same – catching balls. But I want to see what he can do. We know he can throw a college ball, but we don’t know if he can throw a pro ball.”
The Colts are confident Luck will live up to the hype of being the most NFL-ready quarterback since his successor, Peyton Manning, entered the league in 1998.
But nobody can be certain because Luck has been stuck on the West Coast for the past month.
League rules prohibit rookies without a degree from working out at the team complex until the semester ends, Thursday in Luck’s case. The lone exception to the rule is a three-day rookie mini-camp, which Luck attended in early May.
Since then, Luck has been virtually incommunicado with Indy officials.
The coaches were prohibited from instructing Luck via computers or conference calls and were barred from traveling to Stanford, too.
League officials also informed the Colts that it would be a violation if team owner Jim Irsay used his private jet to ferry players to and from Stanford or help Luck travel across the country to work out with his new teammates.
Instead, Luck studied the playbook and worked out essentially on his own at Stanford’s campus, doing everything he could to get ready for next week’s three-day mandatory mini-camp.
It’s certainly not how Luck wanted to start his pro career.
”I don’t want to say he’s miserable, but you can tell it bugs him,” said Collie, who recently had dinner with Luck and his girlfriend in California. ”He’s not here and it’s probably killing him.”
Indianapolis hasn’t been through anything quite like this in more than a decade – when Manning replaced Jim Harbaugh as Indy’s quarterback in 1998.
Back then, the rookie attended all of the team’s offseason workouts – something he continued to do over the next 14 seasons. The only time Manning skipped the workouts was when he was recovering from surgery. Manning, the only four-time MVP in league history, was released in early March, setting up the transition to Luck.
But Manning believed Indy’s offseason workouts were a key component of the Colts’ success.
Losing Luck has put Indianapolis in an early hole.
Rookie Chandler Harnish, career backup Drew Stanton and newcomers Trevor Vittatoe and David Legree have been calling plays and throwing passes in Luck’s absence.
Next week, all that will change and the Colts will have to get acclimated to a new voice in the huddle.
”It’s tough because everyone has a different cadence, it’s something you all have to get used to, especially the two tackles,” new tackle Winston Justice said. ”It takes years to get that down, 10,000 hours.”
That’s something the Colts will be working on from the moment No. 12 steps back onto the field.
The other priority will be getting in sync with the receivers.
Neither Wayne nor Collie worked out with Luck over the past month. So when Luck starts throwing passes at practice, it will be the first time the veterans have had a chance to catch a ball from their new quarterback.
And there’s no time to waste.
”I wish we had the opportunity to hook up, but now we’ve got a short time period to get ready,” Wayne said. ”We’ve got to find time to get some work in before training camp because we’ve got some work to do.”