INDIANAPOLIS – When most people look at Andrew Lucks first two preseason performances, they see a steady, young quarterback ready to emerge as the new face of the Indianapolis Colts.
Luck sees the mistakes.
As the glowing reviews pour in from around the NFL, the successor to Peyton Manning is convinced he can – and must – continue to improve before the Colts open the season Sept. 9 at Chicago.
I wish it was by this practice, Luck joked Wednesday. But Id better be ready by Week 1. I owe it to the rest of the guys on this team who have been busting their butts to be ready by Week 1.
Lucks teammates say they have no doubt that the new franchise quarterback will be ready when the games start counting. They see a player progressing faster than anyone anticipated – and hes got those so-called intangibles.
Kicker Adam Vinatieri, a former teammate of Drew Bledsoe, Tom Brady and Manning, calls Luck polished. Center Samson Satele likes Lucks confidence. Coach Chuck Pagano appreciates Lucks ability to avoid distractions, a key to Lucks preseason success.
Luck, 22, has already had to contend with the hype of playing his first NFL preseason game at home against another No. 1 draft pick (Sam Bradford), his first prime-time game on national television against the Steelers vaunted defense and now this weeks ballyhooed matchup with No. 2 overall pick Robert Griffin III and Washington.
None of it has thrown Luck off of his game.
Hes pretty focused and Andrew came to us that way, said Pagano, the former Baltimore defensive coordinator who gave then-rookie Joe Flacco all kinds of different looks to get prepared in 2008. He (Luck) doesnt let outside distractions get in his way. Hes just really a mature kid who knows how to handle things.
That was never more evident than during Sundays 26-24 loss in Pittsburgh.
After Ike Taylor turned Lucks first interception into a Steelers touchdown, the two-time Heisman Trophy runner-up responded with a methodical 10-play, 80-yard touchdown drive. After the second pick, a pass that rookie receiver T.Y. Hilton tipped, Luck took the Colts right down the field again and slid in for a 1-yard touchdown to tie the score at 14 – a slide Luck later acknowledged was not his best.
By halftime, Luck had rallied the Colts from a 14-0 deficit to a 17-14 lead.
Nobody understands better than the Colts that its only the preseason. But for a guy who had every pass charted at training camp, few expected the transition to the NFL to go this smoothly.
He doesnt play like a rookie, Vinatieri said.
Hes just not satisfied with the results, which is one reason that Luck has decided not to seek out endorsement deals this year. Hed rather concentrate on learning the game and becoming the cornerstone of the Colts rebuilding project.
Hopefully, I play a little better this week. Im expecting to be better, he said. I dont want to take any steps back.