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Luck relishes spotlight at Stanford pro day

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By Antonio Gonzalez, AP Sports Writer

STANFORD, Calif. (AP) — Andrew Luck smiled, joked with teammates and looked more comfortable than anybody on a jam-packed Stanford practice field for the school's pro day.

Leave it to everyone else to stress about their draft position.

Projected to go No. 1 overall to the Indianapolis Colts in the NFL draft, Luck relished the Stanford spotlight for a change Thursday as one of a dozen former Cardinal players who tried to impress more than 125 league scouts and executives. Of more importance to the quarterback was making his teammates shine, even if it meant braving the elements on an unseasonably chilly and windy day on The Farm.

"I think I'm in a very unique position. I feel very fortunate," Luck said. "Obviously nothing is set in stone, but I should be drafted pretty high. Maybe a pro day is not going to hurt or help me as much as some other guys on our team. So I wanted to go out there and maybe show the strength of some of our receivers. If that means I go out there and throw a ball that I don't really want to, maybe I'll do it for those guys."

He did.

Luck completed 46-of-50 passes, and three of those incompletions were drops by his receivers, including a perfect 70-yard-plus spiral that Chris Owusu mishandled in the endzone — the final pass of the day, requested by scouts to test Luck's arm strength, which might be about the only thing some have questioned.

"Maybe arm strength isn't his weakness after all," joked TE Coby Fleener, who could be one of four Stanford players selected in the first round, along with OG David DeCastro and OLT Jonathan Martin. Only Alabama, projected to have at least five, might have more names called in the first round when the draft begins April 26 at New York's Radio City Music Hall.

One spot not in question is the top pick.

Colts owner Jim Irsay, who was not in attendance, has been adamant that Luck is likely his next franchise quarterback. Indianapolis released rehabbing four-time NFL MVP Peyton Manning — who has since signed with Denver — in large part because it would've owed Manning a $28 million bonus and because it has the chance to draft Luck, largely considered the most pro-ready quarterback since Manning in 1998.

The Colts did send a small contingent to Stanford that didn't include Irsay, general manager Ryan Grigson or coach Chuck Pagano. Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder and coach Mike Shanahan were among those at Stanford, and Luck said he met with them a night earlier.

Washington traded up to the No. 2 pick and is expected to draft Baylor QB Robert Griffin III, who beat out Luck for the Heisman Trophy and impressed a day earlier at the school's pro day in Waco, Texas. There still seems to be little doubt about Indianapolis' choice, even if all involved remain coy.

Luck said he has had no communication with Manning — a longtime family friend — since the Colts released the quarterback. And he was his typical timid self on the subject.

"It's what the club felt was the best move for them," Luck said. "They have to do what's in their best interest. I guess it is what it is now."

While Luck's draft slot seems secure, the added attention gave his teammates a larger audience.

More than 150 credentialed media were in attendance, including several live broadcast crews, as were past and present Stanford teammates, NFL scouts and executives and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

"It was kind of a circus out there," Martin said.

DeCastro joked that he "felt left out a little bit" with the swarm of people and wondered why so many came to see Luck, asking, "What more can the guy do?"

"It was interesting to look back at the quarterback," Fleener said, "and see a wall of people behind him."

None of it seemed to faze Luck.

The quarterback wore a gray Stanford football shirt and blue shorts and looked as relaxed as ever. Minus his often scruffy beard, Luck tried to enjoy the process.

The scripted workout was run by his personal coach and QB guru, George Whitfield, who also worked with top pick Cam Newton last year. Whitfield chased Luck with a broom to simulate a tall pass rush, which Luck joked "was kind of intimidating."

The quarterback whipped balls to his wide receivers and tight ends with ease on a day when it wasn't easy to throw outdoors. His lone mistake was overthrowing former roommate and WR Griff Whalen on a corner route in the endzone.

"It was probably the first workout I've seen where a guy throws into the wind," Colts QB coach Clyde Christensen said. "That probably reveals something about him, that he just goes and plays football, which is kind of neat."

 

©2012 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

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