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Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III begin linked careers

The future is now.

Much has been made of the fact that five rookie quarterbacks will start in Week 1, but there are two standing in the forefront.

Andrew Luck, the No. 1 overall draft pick of the 2012 NFL Draft will lead the Indianapolis Colts into Soldier Field for a 1 p.m. kickoff against the Chicago Bears. Robert Griffin III, the No. 2 overall selection, will do so for his Washington Redskins at the same time inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome against the New Orleans Saints.

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Though the two will forever be compared simply from where they were taken in the draft -- and the fact Luck was the Heisman favorite, yet Griffin III won the award.

The preseason meeting between the two received regular-season hype complete with marketing T-shirts. But the two step into very different situations.

Luck is replacing a future Hall of Fame quarterback in Peyton Manning, who owned the city of Indianapolis and won a Super Bowl. The Colts offseason included a new general manager (Ryan Grigson), new coach (Chuck Pagano) and just 27 returning players on the roster.

Griffin III follows the, um, plucky Rex Grossman and has a two-time Super Bowl winning coach (Mike Shanahan).

"Maybe I'm a little naive and obviously I haven't really played a game in this league yet," Luck said this week, "but I like to think that, from what I understand, if you make it to the playoffs, you got a chance to go to the Super Bowl. So try and make the playoffs."

Whereas Luck got plenty of preseason work (66 pass attempts), the Redskins were careful with Griffin III, who threw just 31 passes in the exhibition games. Washington Post columnist Jason Reid expects the whole package to be unleashed today.

"You just have to let them play," former Redskins coach Joe Gibbs told Reid. "In the NFL, you find out quickly, real quickly, what you've got.

"It's tough when you've got a young quarterback in there; you know they're going to take some lumps. But from everything I've heard about Robert, what they're doing with him and how hard I hear he works, I'm hearing the things you like to hear. ... But you've got to give 'em a little time."

In the race to the playoffs, if that is the immediate goal, both teams would have to pull off a few surprises. Griffin III has the better supporting staff and established infrastructure, but sit in a loaded NFC East.

The AFC South is much more manageable behind the Houston Texans, but the franchise is almost starting from scratch with new personnel and a switch from the 4-3 to 3-4 defense.

Either way, the careers of two of the most anticipated players to enter the NFL in recent years begin Sunday.

Follow Kareem Copeland on Twitter @kareemcopeland.

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