He's so intense about this, any unsuccessful practice pass is considered an interception.
“Being hard on yourself if a ball is late over the middle, if it’s behind guys, if it’s tipped up and knocked and falls harmlessly to the ground, then count that as an interception because that’s more often or not what will happen,” Luck said. “So making sure you’re throwing accurate balls and making sure that you’re not making rash decisions.”
The three-time Pro Bowl passer was asked Wednesday during training camp about how he can improve on these areas in practice.
“I think as a runner, you’re making sure you have it high and tight when you’re in traffic with two hands on the ball,” Luck said. “From a quarterback perspective, it’s interceptions, which is the obvious thing you could work on in camp, and not throwing them.”
Luck had not thrown an interception at Anderson University in the first three and a half days of practice. But he was intercepted three times in Wednesday night’s workout at Macholtz Stadium.
“It was a great day for us defensively," inside linebacker D'Qwell Jackson said. "It's been competitive all camp. Today, you can say we got the best of the offense.”
Offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton said earlier in the day that he discusses making smarter decisions constantly, whether that’s Luck or the coach.
“We don’t expect Andrew to go out and make bad decisions,” Hamilton said. “A lot of times, I am just as much at fault with some of the plays that don’t ultimately end up the way that we would have liked them to end up. But that’s not something that we talk about.”
Luck says one of the more important parts of practice is when the first teams face each other. That’s the closest to a real game because both sides are ultra competitive.
“Huge, huge value,” he said. “It’s with the old adage of iron sharpens iron. I think when you have Vontae Davis and T.Y. Hilton going against each other, those are two Pro Bowl guys. Andre Johnson and Darius Butler in the slot, those guys have played a lot of football. Up front, when you get ones along the pass rush, you have (safeties) Mike Adams and Dwight Lowery, trying figuring out what they’re doing. They know how to disguise, they know how to fool a quarterback.
“It sharpens and hones your skills, I think, very much. It’s competitive. Guys take it to heart. You don’t want to be embarrassed by your teammate out on the practice field in front of all your fans and the cameras. I think it’s great that we’re having these great practices. A rising tide lifts all ships. The better everybody else plays, the better we’ll play.”
One of Luck’s often overlooked talents is the ability to scramble. He’s rushed for 905 yards and 12 touchdowns in his brief career.
“I think as a quarterback if you can scramble for a first down or two a game, that’s a big deal,” he said. “That’s something that I learned early on. Short career so far, only three years, you realize that a big part of that, too, is learning how to take care of your body and not putting yourself in a position to take an unnecessary hit at an unnecessary time in the game.
“Yes, if it’s fourth down for a game, you’re going to do something that maybe you wouldn’t do early on second down on the second drive of the game. I think you understand the risk/reward of each hit, but I wouldn’t say stopping running at all is part of it.”
The Colts’ offseason signing of running back Frank Gore, the San Francisco 49ers’ all-time leading rusher, provides Hamilton and Luck the opportunity to be more balanced in what plays are called. In the past, this team has typically relied on the passing game.
Luck has 1,813 passes, the most ever of any quarterback in his first three NFL seasons. He’s completed 1,062 of those passes (58.6 percent) for 86 TDs with 43 interceptions. Last season, he completed a career-best 61.7 percent of his passes for a league-high 40 TDs.
The addition of Gore has many expecting the Colts to be a more physical team.
“The key is no matter how much you talk about it, you’re going to have to apply it on the field physically,” Luck said. “I think that’s where guys like Frank Gore, Anthony Castonzo, tough guys like Dwayne Allen, that go out there and are going to hit. Our defense, like Art Jones, Trent Cole and Erik Walden, those guys are going to come and hit. I think that attitude starts in practice and especially on that first day in pads. So, I mean we can talk about and say what we’d like to do, but we’re going to have to go out there and do it.”
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.