ANDERSON, Ind. — Andrew Luck says he's like an excited kid on Christmas morning when reporting to training camp.
But the Indianapolis Colts quarterback admitted after showing up Saturday at Anderson University that he pays attention to what is going on around the NFL. Specifically, he noticed Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson agreed to a four-year, $87.6-million extension with a $31-million signing bonus Friday.
The Colts exercised their 2016 option on Luck’s contract this offseason, but the team could explore an extension before next season which would make the three-time Pro Bowl star one of the NFL’s highest-paid players.
“It’s obvious at some point, hopefully, I get a new contract,” Luck said with a smile. “As a sports fan, yeah, you pay attention to the news that comes across the ticker or what have you, but as far as it affects how you approach football, I don’t think that happens at all.”
Contracts are never far from this team’s big-picture conversation because several other key players are looking for new deals after this season. One of them is T.Y. Hilton, who has been the team’s No. 1 wide receiver the past two seasons and is coming off his first Pro Bowl.
Just like during offseason training activities, Hilton tried to downplay the significance of entering a contract year.
“For me, I’m just going to go out here to have fun,” Hilton said. “That’s between my agent and the Colts, whatever they decide to do. For me I’m just out here having fun, bonding with my teammates and just continuing to get better.”
Asked if a new contract would allow him to just concentrate on football, he said, “For me, you want to get it out of the way. But there’s nothing I can do. I’m just going out there playing. Control what I can control.”
Hilton will count $1,673,850 against the salary cap, which ranks 25th on the roster and is a bargain considering his production. Luck will count $7,034,363 against the cap, which ranks sixth on the roster.
They insist the business of preparing to win football games is the priority. Luck has worked out with his wide receivers since June mini-camp at several undisclosed locations. The passer who led the league with 40 TD passes last year wants to hit the ground running when the Colts practice for the first time on Sunday.
“It’s a bit like, we had an old coach who used to say, it’s a bit like Christmas,” Luck said. “The first day of camp you show up and there’s this excitement, there’s something in the air and I think that’s true. It’s fun to see all the guys again after sort of being away for a month or five weeks, get back together. There’s going to be a nice competitive edge I think to everything you do and then I think that gets your nerves tingling a bit, but very excited.”
The Colts are a sexy pick as Super Bowl contenders after three consecutive 11-win seasons and reaching the AFC Championship Game a year ago. Luck reminded that players ignore the outside expectations, but conceded the team’s goals have always been just that since he arrived after being selected No. 1 overall in 2012.
”They’ve always been get to the playoffs and get yourself a chance to go win a Super Bowl, that hasn’t changed,” he said. “So regardless of what anyone else will say, I think the guys are approaching it the same way, go out there and try to win football games.”
The change has been dramatic since Luck’s arrival. The Colts earned that top pick by enduring a 2-14 season in 2011. Most of the roster has turned over since then. One noticeable absence this day was longtime fan favorite Reggie Wayne. The team decided not to re-sign the 14-year wide receiver.
On the one-hour drive to Anderson from Indianapolis, Luck admitted he thought about how his comfort level at training camp has changed from his rookie year.
“I was thinking about that on the drive up,” he said. “The first drive up here, you’re not sure which exit to take, it’s all brand new, and now it’s sort of programmed into your head, into your body. I think you could probably do it with your eyes closed and when you get here it just seems right.
“I think it’s a good feeling, comfortable around the team, and I think a big part of camp, though, is making yourself uncomfortable and trying to grow and put yourself in tough situations. Hopefully it’s weather and practice and meetings and emotional stress, mental stress. I think that’s a great part of camp, but it does feel nice knowing the ropes, per se, a little bit.”
Goals he’s focused on for himself are to improve his TD-INT ratio as well as the offense’s efficiency on third downs and in the red zone.
In an amusing side note, Luck set the record straight on his recent DirecTV NFL Sunday Ticket advertisement, in which he crawls on a floor playing hide-and-seek with cats. Asked if he likes cats, he said with a laugh, “Not particularly.”
His final question pertained to if he was allowed to keep the cat sweater he wore in the commercial: “No, I did not. I didn’t want to.”
Colts Training Camp schedule
Saturday, Aug. 1st — Players arrive (no practice), Colts City closed.
Sunday, Aug. 2nd — 1:55-4:40 p.m. practice, 12:30-5 p.m. Colts City, Kids Day, Presented by Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health.
Monday, Aug. 3rd — 1:55-4:40 p.m. practice, 12:30-5 p.m. Colts City.
Tuesday, Aug. 4th — 1:55-4:40 p.m. practice, 12:30-5 p.m. Colts City.
Wednesday, Aug. 5th — 6:25-9:10 p.m. practice, 5-9:30 p.m. Colts City, BBQ Bash at Training Camp.
Thursday, Aug. 6th — Players’ day off, Colts City Closed.
Friday, Aug. 7th — 1:55-4:40 p.m. practice, 12:30-5 p.m. Colts City.
Saturday, Aug. 8th — 1:55-4:40 p.m. practice, 12:30-5 p.m. Colts City, Armed Forces Day presented by BOSE.
Sunday, Aug. 9th — 1:55-4:40 p.m. practice, 12:30-5 p.m. Colts City, Community Take Back Day presented by the Indiana Prescription Drub Abuse Task Force.
Monday, Aug. 10th — 1:55-4:40 p.m. practice, 12:30-5 p.m. Colts City.
Tuesday, Aug. 11th — Players’ day off, Colts City Closed.
Wednesday, Aug. 12th — 1:55-4:40 p.m. practice, 12:30-5 p.m. Colts City.
Thursday, Aug. 13th — 1:55-4:40 p.m. practice, 12:30-5 p.m. Colts City.
Friday, Aug. 14th — 1:55-4:40 p.m. practice, 12:30-5 p.m. Colts City.
Saturday, Aug. 15th — BREAK CAMP, no practice, Colts City closed.
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.