ANDERSON — Andrew Luck drew praise from his new coach, his new team owner and Tony Dungy after his first full-speed workout.
The Colts’ new franchise quarterback completed 27 of 32 attempts Sunday, and made it look easy, too.
“I think that’s what impressed me the most, to see the decision-making and the lack of any indecisiveness,” said Dungy, the former Colts coach. “He looked like a third- or fourth-year guy in this first practice. I’ve seen him play twice, Oregon against Stanford, and so I saw it from that perspective, and you feel like, ‘Well he’s been running this offense that he’s been comfortable with.’ But to see it here, and knowing that he’s had a condensed offseason program, too, because of the school’s setup there, it was very impressive.”
Nobody expected Luck to be perfect on Day 1. He wasn’t.
The former Stanford star, drafted first overall, threw two interceptions, one off a tipped ball. He also overthrew a wide-open Donnie Avery, who got behind two defenders and was sprinting down the sideline.
Given the circumstances, it was still a solid debut. Luck looked relaxed and precise throughout the two-plus hour workout and showed no sign of being behind after missing so many mini-camp workouts. NFL rules do not permit rookies to practice at the team complex, except for a three-day rookie mini-camp, until the school’s semester ends. It kept Luck away from Indianapolis until early June.
But Luck performed as if he hadn’t missed a thing. At times, he zinged balls over the outstretched fingertips of defenders and drew loud roars from a crowd estimated to be roughly 3,000. At other times, he simply read the coverage and connected with open receivers. In all, only three balls during seven-on-seven and 11-on-11 drills hit the ground, and the offense looked sharp.
“That’s a credit to the offensive guys, the offensive coaches,” first-year coach Chuck Pagano said. “You can see from today the offense obviously stayed in their playbook, the retention has been excellent, and they came out here and moved the ball up and down the field pretty much at will today.”
The positive reviews were a stark contrast from Saturday night when veterans instructed Luck to stand up and sing a song, a rookie tradition in Indianapolis.
Luck chose the John Denver hit “Country Roads” because he said it was the only song he knew the words to. Teammates weren’t so sure he knew anything about music after hearing the rendition, which by all accounts was booed mercilessly.
Punter Pat McAfee, who played at West Virginia where Luck’s father, Oliver, is the athletic director, even tried to help.
That didn’t work, either.
“It was awful,” Pagano said. “I’m glad he’s not doing that for a living because he wouldn’t have gotten the signing bonus he got here. It was a great effort, though.”
While the challenges are bound to get tougher when Luck starts facing exotic blitzes and new defenses, those standing inside the Colts’ rope line liked what they saw.
“My impression with him is that he is just very strong and steady and is working toward limiting the turnovers, the interceptions, working toward really being patient and not feeling he has to do it all on his own,” team owner Jim Irsay said.