The Indianapolis Colts‘ new franchise quarterback completed 27 of 32 attempts Sunday, and made it looking 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 set up 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 Indy until early June.
But Luck performed like 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 the No. 1 overall draft pick to stand up and sign a song, a rookie tradition in Indy.
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.”
Luck started his first day at training camp with a light walkthrough that served as little more than a warm-up act for the afternoon, the first workout the public could attend.
Some came to Anderson University, a Division III school about 30 miles northeast of the team complex, wearing No. 12 jerseys. Afterward, hundreds scrambled to the 50-yard line seeking an autograph from a quarterback covered in sweat on another 90-degree day in Central Indiana. Luck signed for about 20 minutes.
In between, he put on a memorable performance.