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ANDERSON – Here's your quarterback, Indianapolis Colts fans. No nickname. No clever marketing campaign. No videotaped trips to Las Vegas. Just a guy with the word “GRIT” on the back of his shirt.
That makes you happy, doesn't it?
You like his no-nonsense approach. You like how he steps up to the microphone on the first day of training camp at Anderson University and addresses the idea of whether the Colts will be a better team in his third season.
“I'd like to think so, but who cares what I say here?” Luck said. “It's what you put on the field.”
After a dozen years of being spoiled by Peyton Manning's routine of work, study, work and study some more, the Colts still have the same approach in Luck. Luck keeps the ego locked away, far from public consumption. He makes sure to mention his linemen and running backs when people gush over flashy wide receivers. He likes watching a little soccer in his spare time and doesn't care about social media.
Beyond that, you know his best days are ahead of him and he has an offense waiting for him that – knock on wood for health – will easily be his most potent in his brief NFL career.
Luck likes to think the Colts will be better, but he's more interested in ensuring they are.
“I feel more comfortable with things,” Luck said. “There are different challenges going into Year 3. We need to have a quality camp and figure out how to put our best foot forward in Week 1.”
That means more on Luck's shoulders, but also more for him to work with. Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton enters his second season with the Colts, bringing continuity to the offense. His relationship with Luck goes back to their time together at Stanford University, so they have trust in each other. Hamilton said he might even have Luck take the lead in installing some of the passing scheme.
From the outside, Luck resembles Brett Favre without the diva tendencies or Ben Roethlisberge without the off-field distractions. While Luck entered the league being compared to Robert Griffin III, he's more likely to be measured today against veterans such as Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees. That's unfair in a lot of ways, but Colts fans have to love the standards at play in trying to match those guys.
Luck said he is eager to begin camp and work more closely with Hamilton.
“The dialogue is definitely different than the first year,” Luck said. “I'm very excited to attack things with him. He's incredibly sharp, a great coordinator and a great coach and I'm glad he's here.”
Luck should be able to look around the huddle during training camp and see the most options he's had in his career. Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton and Hakeem Nicks line up as receivers, Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen at tight ends and some mixture of Trent Richardson, Vick Ballard and Ahmad Bradshaw at running back. Some of those players are coming back from injuries, so question marks remain, but if they are healthy, the Colts offense can soar.
“There's no way you can scheme up ways to take away Reggie and not account for T.Y. and he tight ends, as well as Hakeem Nicks and Donte Moncrief,” Hamilton said. “We have some guys that can make plays for us on offense. I'm really excited at the end of the day to know that any given play we feel we have a potential matchup in our favor.”
Luck essentially carried the offense on his shoulders after Wayne was injured last season. He doesn't back down. He always displays grit.
This season, he could have too many options to count.
“I don't think we tend to worry about external expectations,” Luck said. “Coming in my first year we had very high expectations internally. …We always have high expectations.”
Asked what are the most valuable possessions needed to last through training camp, Luck settled on a pillow and a blanket. “Those are really two big things Andrew brought up,” punter Pat McAfee said, before waxing poetic about the iPhone.
Luck is a just-the-basics quarterback. He has dramatic flair, as his multiple comebacks have shown. But he's more grit than glamour. This is your quarterback, heading to Year 3. More weapons. More pressure. And here's the good thing: He wants more.