Andrew Luck is a smart guy. He figured he might move from alternate to Pro Bowl quarterback, so he went to his old stomping grounds at Stanford University to hang out.
He got the call when Tom Brady withdrew.
Now that the Indianapolis Colts rookie quarterback is in Hawaii – for the first time, he said – he plans to approach the Pro Bowl game Sunday the way he always approaches every game. He'll go all out.
“Being my first one, I'm very new to it,” Luck said in a conference call Thursday. “Some folks weren't happy with the play last year. Guys want to keep the game going. It's part of our obligation and duty to make sure we play hard and the game continues.”
Luck joins the Broncos' Peyton Manning and Texans' Matt Schaub as the AFC quarterbacks. Patriots quarterback Brady withdrew for injury, opening up the spot for Luck. Luck said he has had a little bit of time to talk about Indianapolis with Manning, and that Manning always has good things to say about the city.
Luck took Colts third-string quarterback Chandler Harnish, the former Norwell standout, along with him. Colts backup Drew Stanton stayed home with his wife and infant son. Colts receiver Reggie Wayne was flying the team's receivers in, too. It's part of Pro Bowl tradition for players to take their position peers on the trip.
Since the Colts' season ended, Luck has tried to take some time off, but is excited about the news that his former offensive coordinator at Stanford, Pep Hamilton, has moved into that role with the Colts. Hamilton replaces Bruce Arians, who left to take the head coaching job with the Arizona Cardinals.
Hamilton plans to install a West Coast-style offense, although Luck said he expects it to be somewhat of a hybrid to also incorporate things that worked well for the Colts in 2012.
“I got to be in that offense for four years, so obviously my comfort level is fairly high,” Luck said. “There were a lot of grat things B.A. (Arians) did. Continuing to do some of those things and adding to it with Pep, it'll be a great offense.”
Asked to reflect on his 2012 rookie season, Luck didn't mention any personal achievements, such as his NFL rookie record for passing yardage.
“I wish we could be in the Super Bowl and playing, but I'm glad to be part of a great franchise. …I'm not satisfied by any means.”
Luck said he is still working on his offseason plans once he returns from Hawaii.
“I've got to take a little time off to relax and get away from football. I think that's almost as important as the work you put in,” he said. “I'm still working on what sort of plan I'll have for the offseason and how to approach everything. I want to go back and look at everything, what went well and what went right, any mechanical issues I can work on in the offseason and reintegrate myself with Pep's offense.”
A story circulated Thursday from Pro Football Talk about how Luck tipped off 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh (Luck's former coach at Stanford) about the skills of Colin Kaepernick after both quarterbacks attended the Manning Passing Academy. Harbaugh then drafted Kaepernick, who's now the 49ers starter. Luck downplayed that a bit, but praised Kaepernick.
“I've always really enjoyed being around Colin and watching him throw,” Luck said. “He has an incredibly live arm. He's incredibly athletic. I've always had very high things to say about him.”
Luck hopes to improve all areas of his passing accuracy during the offseason. Improved rapport with his receivers will be an emphasis, he said. He also said the West Coast offense might help that but says no one should blame the play calls for his “bad throws” last season.
“You make your biggest strides between Year One and Year Two,” he said. “I need to use this offseason for personal development and as a team, we've got to get better so we can win the big one next year.”