INDIANAPOLIS – Optimism is always abundant following a season in which a team won its division, advanced a round father in the playoffs and on paper is better than they were the year before.
That’s the situation that Andrew Luck is in at the moment-and naturally he’s in a pretty positive mood as the OTA’s begin at the Colts Complex this week.
After a 2013 season where the Colts recaptured the AFC South title for the first time in three years and then advanced to the divisional round of the AFC Playoffs, the third-year quarterback has high hopes for a team that is considered in the group of contenders for Super Bowl XLIX.
“There’s a lot of good football players on the offensive side of the ball in this locker room,” said Luck on Wednesday. “It will be very exciting to get on the field with them and see the best way to distribute the ball.”
He’ll have a few old friends to throw to, first and foremost Reggie Wayne. Speaking at a charity event last week, Wayne was adamant that his best days are still ahead of him and that he’ll prove his “Naysayers” wrong with another career year.
Luck has that same line of thinking and that’s would be good for the quarterback, who has connected with Wayne for 144 completions, 1,858 yards and 7 touchdowns since the beginning of the 2012 season.
“He’s phenomenal. I think his rehab goes well,” said Luck of Wayne. “Obviously, I’m no doctor or physical therapist but just for him to be on the field with us, watching us do drills, jump in every now and then and see him around the building. He looks good, man. He looks good. We expect him back better than ever.
“We know he’s a phenomenal football player and it’s great to have him be that big presence everywhere.”
Luck will also have a few other weapons that were lost for the season early in 2013 back into the fold. Tight end Dwayne Allen and running back Vick Ballard didn’t make it past the first game last season, each suffering season-ending injuries before week.
Allen had 45 receptions for 521 yards and three touchdowns in his rookie season for the Colts and in 2013 his only catch of the year was a touchdown against the Raiders.
“Very difficult,” said the third-year tight end from Clemson on sitting out in 2013. “I love this game and for the first couple games I was still into it until I had to just become a fan and just cheer those guys on and not participate in meetings, just because it was too hard on me.”
Ballard has 63 yards on 13 carries in his only game for the Colts last season before tearing his ACL in practice the next week. He had 877 yards in his rookie season in 2012 for an average of 3.9 yards a carry.
“It’s like climbing a never-ending mountain,” said Ballard of coming back from the injury. “I’m starting to see the top of it now. Just got to keep taking it one day at a time and thank the man above for giving me the opportunity.”
Of course there will be a few new pieces to the Colts’ offensive attack in 2014 and the biggest is wide receiver Hakeem Nicks. The five-year veteran comes to Indianapolis from the Giants where he caught 56 passes for 896 yards in 2013. Nicks was sold on the Colts almost from the minute he stepped into the practice facility on a visit in March, signing with the club on the day of his visit.
“Right now I’m in a new situation with a young quarterback. I look forward to playing with him,” said Nicks. “What he brings to the game is special. I’ve been critiquing his game for a while now. That’s one of the main reasons that I made the decision that I made.
“Big fan of his and I’m ready to get out on the field and make plays for him.”
The feeling is mutual for a lot of different players on an offense that has the potential for something big in about five months.