Andrew Luck considers this “fun.”
The Indianapolis Colts quarterback smiles when he repeats the word in reference to Sunday’s season opener at Buffalo.
After months of offseason work, Super Bowl hype, endless interviews, a few amusing TV commercials and then roster cuts to shrink the number of players in his locker room, finally, the games are here.
“Practice, there’s certainly with the game planning, there’s a little edge, buzz, whatever that is,” Luck said Wednesday. “It’s fun. Fun that the season is here, now it’s time to roll.”
The Colts’ offense is expected to do just that this season, although a road opener against new Bills head coach Rex Ryan and a defense that led the NFL in sacks last season will test Luck’s offensive line.
Ryan needled Luck by reminding Wednesday the three-time Pro Bowl passer is facing “a real defense.” That's an obvious dig at the AFC South Division, which the Colts have won the past two years and are 16-2 against the Houston Texans, Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars in the quarterback's career.
The understated passer never provides bulletin-board material, just compliments about the opposition.
“First and foremost, they’re good players,” Luck said. “They have a bunch of good players over there. Jerry Hughes, who was here, and a really good pass rusher. Mario Williams (is) obviously one of the premier pass rushers in the NFL. Kyle Williams inside, maybe one of the better inside pass rushers they have and they are going to bring a bunch of different looks with a Rex Ryan sort of mindset of a defense.
“You’re going to have to be on your Ps and Qs if you want to have a chance as an offense and it’s a challenge. It’s a fun challenge. I think it’s something that the guys in this locker room are relishing.”
There’s that word again, fun. As if the smiles aren’t enough of an indicator of his excitement, perhaps Luck’s upbeat nature also has something to do with a receiving corps that appears to be the best he’s had in his pro career.
Wide receiver Andre Johnson arrived in free agency, then wide receiver Phillip Dorsett in the first round of the draft. Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton is coming off his first Pro Bowl and was rewarded with a lucrative five-year, $65-million contract extension, including $38 million guaranteed. Second-year receiver Donte Moncrief is a solid No. 4 option with a pair of 100-yard receiving games as a rookie.
Then Luck has running back Frank Gore in the backfield. The San Francisco 49ers’ all-time leading rusher, who joined Johnson in that March flight to Indianapolis, has made quite a positive impression during workouts.
“He’s stepped on my foot maybe a couple of times during camp and it hurts,” Luck said with a chuckle. “It hurts more than when other people step on your foot. I think he puts a lot of force into that ground. He is violent. He looks like he’s a natural runner and nothing is forced. It’s very fluid, but powerful. It’s sort of a thing of beauty actually I think to watch him run.”
Told of Ryan’s plea for the Buffalo crowd to make life rather noisy, Luck acknowledged the team has been practicing with the volume turned up on the sound system.
“Yeah, practicing with crowd noise is always important when you’re going to go on the road and playing in a tough environment,” he said. “We know Buffalo is going to be rocking. From what I’ve heard from guys, it’s a great place to play a game. It’s a raucous environment, people love their football there, they know football, which makes it fun.
“It’s fun to be a team on the road and go into a tough place and try to get a win.”
Again, there’s that word “fun” again.
Phillip B. Wilson also can be found on Facebook and Google+.