ANDERSON – The Indianapolis Colts coaches most directly involved with rookie quarterback Andrew Luck don't like the guy. They love him.
“Gushing” would be the mild way of describing their enthusiasm.
Here's new Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians' take, evoking quarterbacks that he's worked with over the course of his 20 years in the NFL:
“He has such a little bit of Peyton (Manning), a little bit of Timmy Couch and a little bit of Ben (Roethlisberger),” Arians said Saturday as the Colts officially reported to training camp. “It's scary how good he can be. I'm really anxious to see him develop and watch him grow. He's got the best of all three of those guys.”
Is that a mouthful? Certainly, it is. Manning, now with the Denver Broncos, is one of the best to ever play the game. Couch didn't necessarily live up to his pre-NFL status as a No.1 pick, but he had his moments. Roethlisberger has two Super Bowl rings.
Arians is hardly alone in the preseason praise, however.
Take a listen to Colts quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen.
“He just has a maturity, a football maturity and a life maturity that we couldn't have anticipated,” Christensen said. “Even though he's a sharp guy and a mature guy, it's more than I anticipated. …He's studied on his own and put in a bunch of hours on his own. His levelness with his life – he has stuff in order. He surprises all of us, even our high expectations were exceeded.”
Some praise is to be expected. If Luck were not living up to early expectations, the Colts would be unlikely to say so. But the extreme positive reviews serve little purpose unless they're true.
Luck enters his first Colts camp with massive expectations and, if the coaches keep talking the way they were on Saturday, those expectations will only increase.
Christensen said he expects Luck to take most of the snaps during practices, and probably even more than usual since the team is implementing a new offense with new coaches and players.
Luck said he is eager to get to work in camp and looks forward to the nearly 24-7 training schedule at Anderson University the next three weeks.
“Life turns very simple, and I appreciate that, during camp,” Luck said. “We'll have football to focus on and not much else, and that excites me. You never can know enough. Practice reps definitely help me continue to improve playbook-wise every day.”
Luck missed a significant chunk of summer organized team activities while he finished up his degree at Stanford University, but he hardly ignored his playbook. After veteran minicamp ended, he made a trip to work with Reggie Wayne and other receivers at the University of Miami. Wayne said the workouts went well.
Arians said he sees a lot of similarities between Luck joining the Colts this season and Manning coming in as a rookie in 1998. Luck might prefer to downplay those similarities – why increase the pressure? – but he'll likely just have to get used to it.
“I don't know what a photographic memory is, and everybody says he's got one,” Arians said. “I've never been around a guy who learns that fast and gets it that quickly. He not only gets it on the board in the meeting room, but he can go out there and do it on the field and execute it. And we've given him a ton of info.”