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  1. #1
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    USA Today: Andrew Luck taking a firm grip on Colts' reins

    INDIANAPOLIS -- Matt Hasselbeck was one of the first Indianapolis Colts in the locker room after a recent organized team activities session that didn't go as smoothly as the offense had hoped. Hasselbeck slammed his helmet onto the shelf in his locker.

    Upon hearing a simultaneous thud, he looked to his right and saw Andrew Luck, who glared, shook his head and sighed. The two had grumbled their way through dinner the night before while reviewing that day's sloppy practice. This one was only slightly better — not good enough for the Colts' second-year quarterback, who is looking for big improvements in 2013.

    "He just looked at me. No words," Hasselbeck said.

    "He wants to be the best that he can be." Better than he was in 2012, when Luck, Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick changed the NFL's perception about how quickly young quarterbacks can be successful. Griffin, Wilson and Kaepernick succeeded, in part, because of their elusiveness. Luck, though better with his feet than many realize, did it with his arm in a complex offense that requires the quarterback to throw downfield consistently.

    Luck threw for an NFL rookie-record 4,374 yards and the 11-5 Colts grabbed a wild-card spot despite being one year removed from a 2-14 season and seeing coach Chuck Pagano sidelined while he received treatments for leukemia.

    Not good enough. Not for Luck, who got much more out of this spring than he did last year when NFL rules prevented him from participating in OTAs and minicamp while Stanford classes were in session.

    "I don't think anybody's content. Last year was great, I'm proud of it and all that stuff, but no one's worried about that now," Luck told USA TODAY Sports. "We could've won zero games or won all of our games. For us, it's about this year. That's where our focus is.

    "Guys just get that. And the tone that starts at the top with Chuck is one of 'Work hard, no matter what the circumstances, be thankful you have a chance to play football and give it all you've got.'"

    The Colts were surprisingly competitive last season, but they did so with last-minute victories while riding the emotion of the "Chuckstrong" campaign to play well for Pagano. They just as easily could have been 5-11, a record that would've been expected of a rebuilding team with a rookie quarterback.

    That quarterback is a rookie no more. Already, he has stepped into more of a leadership role, his teammates say. Hasselbeck, a 15th-year veteran who started for the Seattle Seahawks and Tennessee Titans before signing with the Colts in the spring, didn't experience Luck as a rookie but sees a well-seasoned veteran in the locker to his right.

    Hasselbeck said he has been one of the first players to the facility each morning but never beats Luck into the building. Luck often is already watching tape. Hasselbeck also has been impressed with how Luck has handled the responsibilities coaches have put upon him.

    For example, early in the spring, the team's strength coach, Roger Marandino, told Luck to run the conditioning drills with all of the skill-position players while Marandino handled the big guys. Hasselbeck expected some hesitation on the part of a young player, at least to figure out which drills to run and how.

    "Andrew was incredible," Hasselbeck said. "'Here we go, we're going to do this. Next, Donald Brown, what's your favorite bag drill? Cool, that's what we're doing. Let's go.'

    "He wasn't bossing anybody around. It was fun. It was cool. Some people don't have that personality. They're good players, but they don't have that."

    One guy who had it was Peyton Manning, one of the game's great leaders who ran the show at the Colts facility for 14 years. Hasselbeck has been around four franchises now, so he noted the way the team's entire organization responded to Luck was due in part to the way others used to lean on Manning.

    "That was sort of the standard that's been set here. It's kind of what the building expects," Hasselbeck said. "I can't think of a more perfect guy to kind of fill the role."

    Luck is feeling more comfortable because of the added year of experience, but also because of the offense. While he performed surprisingly well for a rookie in Bruce Arians' system, he's returning to a scheme he ran at Stanford: His offensive coordinator with the Cardinal, Pep Hamilton, is now the Colts coordinator.

    Occasionally, Luck has been a little too comfortable.

    "Sometimes he's going a little bit too fast for the rest of us, making checks, switching plays, changing the cadence. He apologizes and brings it back," second-year tight end Dwayne Allen said. "He's definitely at command of the ship. He is on top of it. This is his offense, and he's in control.

    "Last year, he'd be looking back at (Arians), 'Can I do this? What about this?' This year, it's like, 'This is how it's going down. Hey, you, get here. You go there. We've got this.' It's totally different."

    Luck laughed when asked about moving things along too quickly for those who don't yet know Hamilton's offense the way he does.

    "I don't know about that," he said. "But certain things will come back, and I'll say, 'Oh, yeah, I remember this,' and start talking to Pep about something that happened three years ago, and Hasselbeck will tell us to shut up."

    As for the opinions on Luck entering his second year, they're glowing.

    Allen says Hamilton's offense will make ball control and protecting Luck (sacked 41 times in 2012) priorities: "Last year it was relying on Andrew's arm. I believe this year we want to take some of that pressure off him."

    Allen paused, seemingly ready to make a grand statement about what kind of season Luck is going to have.

    "I don't want to put too many expectations on him, but he's a very talented guy," Allen said. "You can tell he's done with last year and ready to continue his progress."

    Said Luck, "I guess not being the new face in the locker room, (my voice) does carry a little more weight. Being in your second year, you assume more of a leadership role. Hopefully, that will grow every year."
    http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports...lbeck/2415811/
    "We earned this ****ing burn. It doesn’t matter how you get from A to B. Our goal at the beginning of this ****ing season is to win a ****ing World Series, and guess what, boys, we’re going to the ****ing dance." - The Reverend Hunter Pence


    <3
    "[He's] a really complete player... There's not really any weaknesses to his game." - Bill Belichick on Andrew Luck

  2. #2
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    Nice read!
    If winning isn't everything, why do they keep score?

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