Colts' Andrew Luck ready to start new job
Andrew Luck is getting a full immersion into the NFL.
Like other rookies, the Colts new quarterback will have to walk the stairs to his upper-floor dorm room at Anderson University. Like other rookies, defensive lineman Cory Redding still expects Luck to traipse off the field carrying pads and helmets from the veterans. And like everyone else on this new-look roster, Luck's introduction to training camp was upstaged when Reggie Wayne showed up with his military team.
No, Luck is not just some other rookie on the Colts' roster - he was the No. 1 draft choice in April and the hand-picked successor to Peyton Manning. Yet when he reported to camp Saturday, Luck sounded like just another guy trying to make the roster.
''Obviously, a little nervous,'' he said. ''I think it's good to be a little nervous about things. I'm excited to get going, anxious.''
Colts coaches are eager to see what they have in Luck.
They worked with him during a three-day rookie minicamp in early May then didn't see him again until mid-June because of Luck's class schedule at Stanford. Luck did get some extra work after the Colts finished their scheduled mini-camps in June and was back at the team complex Wednesday for another round of rookie workouts.
Otherwise, he was pretty much on his own to get acclimated to his new playbook and new teammates. He did spend four days in Miami working out with Wayne, a former Hurricanes receiver who gave Luck rave reviews on his work but panned his attire.
''I was a little disappointed because he showed up the last day in a Stanford shirt,'' Wayne said, drawing laughter.
Luck had better get used to the jokes because he'll get even more over the next three weeks.
But it was Wayne who stole the show Saturday.
The Pro Bowl receiver who took less money to return to his adopted hometown has a penchant for making interesting entrances. One year, he showed up in an Edgerrin James' Cardinals jersey. Another year, he arrived in construction gear.
So it was no surprise when he went all out again. He contacted the Indiana Recruiting Command in Indianapolis, which secured three Humvees from the Indiana National Guard's 38th aviation unit in Shelbyville, Ind. Seven soldiers in the convoy met Wayne in Anderson, about 30 miles northeast of Indy then made the short drive with Wayne to the dorms.
He dressed in combat boots and military fatigues, had his last name stitched across the right side of his chest and later explained the entrance was intended to send a message about teamwork.
''I don't want people to look at this like it's a joke. I fully support our military. I'm taking a page out of their book and I want our team to take a page out of their book. They are the true heroes,'' Wayne said. ''They are selfless workers, they are definitely there for each other and they go out there and make it happen no matter what the situation is. That's what we have to do. We have to go out and make it happen no matter what the situation is.''
The soldiers appreciate the respect and interest, especially from a player as driven as Wayne.
''The dedication he has speaks for itself,'' said staff sergeant Lamont Sullivan, a die-hard Colts fan from Indy. ''So whatever we can do to support him, he's got the green team behind him.''
But fans are wondering what this Colts team will look like after a tumultuous offseason that included the March release of their longtime lynchpin, Manning.
Since then, virtually all of the talk around Indy has been about Luck and how quickly he could make the transition from two-time Heisman Trophy runner-up to franchise quarterback.
''He has a little bit of Peyton, a little bit of Tim Couch and a little bit of Ben (Roethlisberger), so I'm really anxious to see him grow. He has the best of all three of those guys,'' said new offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, who worked w all three former first-round picks. ''I don't really know what a photographic mind is, but everyone says he has one, and I have never been around a guy that has learned that fast.''
Colts fans will have to wait a little longer to get a glimpse at Luck.
Sunday's schedule calls for a morning walkthrough and a full afternoon practice. Players won't be in full pads until later in the week.
Whenever that happens, it will mark the first time since being drafted in April that Luck will be up against Indy's new pass-rushing linebackers, Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis. Redding has his own game plan to immerse Luck into the ways of the NFL.
''It's vets like myself, you help them calm down by giving them your pads to carry, giving them your helmet, all that kind of stuff. Making them do some extra stuff. That's what calms them down,'' Redding said. ''He's a rookie. Everybody no matter if you are No. 1 or 131, everybody pays their dues in some form or fashion.''
That's something Luck is certainly willing to do after signing a four-year, $22.1 million contract last week.
''You get your dorm room, you take your clothes out, put your sheets down on the bed, it definitely hits you,'' he said. ''Your life (at camp) turns very simple. You really have football to focus on and not much else. That excites me.''