Andrew Luck sees benefit to joint practices

Colts quarterback says workouts with Chicago Bears in Indianapolis helps players focus more against an unfamiliar foe.

The first time quarterback Andrew Luck saw the Chicago Bears, he was a rookie making his NFL debut in the Windy City.

A lot has changed since the Indianapolis Colts’ 41-21 loss that day.

That thought crossed Luck’s mind with the Bears in town this week. The two teams practiced together Wednesday at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center and will do so again Thursday before meeting in a 7:30 p.m. Saturday exhibition game at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Since that game, offensive guard Lance Louis has jumped from the Bears to the Colts and is now starting at offensive left guard.

Since that season opener, Luck has been selected to three Pro Bowls and led the Colts to playoff berths each January. Meanwhile, the Bears have gone 23-25 without a playoff berth and changed coaches twice from Lovie Smith to Marc Trestman to John Fox.

“I’d like to think that I’ve grown (laughs),” Luck said Thursday. “Mentally, emotionally, physically, I think I have a better understanding of what it means to be an NFL quarterback. The experience is a big thing, a big factor I think in playing this position and playing any sport and to have all the experience of three years is beneficial.”

Luck, 25, echoed the sentiments of his head coach, Chuck Pagano, in saying he sees an added benefit to the joint practices with the Bears.

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“I think it’s great for both teams,” the quarterback said. “It’s great for us as an offense to go up against a different defensive scheme than (Colts) coach (Greg) Manusky’s scheme, to see different types of players, from secondary guys to linebackers to rushers for the offensive linemen, the interior guys.

“It’s quality, quality productive work. I don’t want to speak for the Bears but I think we both have approached this the right way, and about work and you can tell it’s very professional out there, guys taking care of each other. I think it will pay a lot of dividends.”

While fights in other NFL joint scrimmages have led to speculation about the value of such workouts, Pagano expressed optimism about the Colts participating in these practices again in the future.

“We’d love to,” the coach said. “It’s just great work. You get tired, like we said, of pounding on each other. You talk to coach Fox and and his staff and his players, and they say the same thing. The message is the same when you talk to everybody.

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“It’s a measuring stick for all of our guys to go against somebody else, different skill set, different pass rushers, different protectors, different runners, different wide receivers, all of those kinds of things. Scheme wise, you’re seeing different concepts in all three phases. So there’s a ton of plusses.”

Luck has said he would emphasize red-zone and third-down efficiency this season. The teams spent time in situational drills the first day and planned to do more of it the second day.

“There was some situational work (Wednesday),” Luck said. “I think you’ll see more situational stuff (Thursday) with third down and red zone, you’ll see another two-minute drill as well.

“Really everything is a situation in a football game. So whether it’s first or second down, backed up, third down, red zone, whatever it is, it’s all situational. It’s been fun. It’s been very productive.”

Luck said he expected more of himself and the team during the workouts.

“Just be a little bit more on the screws,” he said. “Let’s be a little tighter, just play a little faster. We can all chip in. I know I’ve got to make sure to take care of the football, first and foremost, and give accurate balls. Accurate balls give a guy a chance to run with it and make a first down if it’s not thrown that far. So (there’s) a lot of things we can do better.”

Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.

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