If Andrew Luck has a dim view of the preseason, he masks it well.
He not only enjoys playing in games that don’t count, he regards it as critical preparation for the ones that do.
“It gives you a chance to get better, go out and work on technique, work on fundamentals and work on things as a team,” said Luck, who figures to get his longest look of the preseason tonight when the Indianapolis Colts host the New Orleans Saints.
Having played sparingly in the first two exhibition games, the Colts quarterback relishes the chance for a longer stint in a game he insists will have more of a regular-season game feel than the first two outings.
“It absolutely does. The organization of it all, the rhythm of it all, that’s what’s great about this third game,” Luck said. “You really can sort of test run how your week goes during the season. We’re definitely approaching it like a (regular-season) game.”
Although Luck has played sparingly in the preseason, he has been sharp.
In a brief appearance three weeks ago, he completed 4 of 5 passes for 53 yards during a 13-10 road loss against the New York Jets.
Last week, in a longer outing against the visiting New York Giants, Luck completed 12 of 18 attempts for 89 yards and a touchdown in a 27-26 loss.
Despite the absence of wide receiver Reggie Wayne, who has yet to play in the preseason as a cautionary move, Luck has efficiently moved the offense, not tossed an interception and appears to be in regular-season form.
Yet counting tonight, Luck and the Colts still have two more exhibition opportunities to refine for the Sept. 7 regular-season opener at Denver.
Luck embraces each dry run.
“When you have the opportunities to work, you better take advantage of them, and I think we do,” he said.
Luck also looks forward to Wayne’s return. The six-time Pro Bowler declares himself ready to play, but head coach Chuck Pagano has been cautious working Wayne back into the fold as he recovers from last year’s season-ending knee injury.
But whether Wayne plays in the preseason or not, Luck isn’t worried. He expects the 35-year-old star to be ready for the games that count. And when he does return, it will further strengthen a receiving corps that could be as good — or better — as any in the NFL.
Former Giants’ receiver Hakeem Nicks is coming off an impressive game against his former team and seems to have forged a quick chemistry with Luck. Third-year pro T.Y. Hilton is coming off an impressive season in which he was the Colts’ leading receiver. And tight ends Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen are established play-makers whom Luck has relied on.
Moreover, running backs Trent Richardson and Ahmad Bradshaw are productive backfield receivers, offering an array of targets Luck can’t wait to exploit when the real things begins.
“That’s the beauty of it,” he said.
“If you focus on one guy, there are two other guys, tight ends. There’s more than just two guys. There’s a bunch of guys.”