Around the League will examine one key figure under pressure on each team heading into the 2012 season. Next up: The Indianapolis Colts.
Under Pressure: Andrew Luck
It's natural for the hype machine to go into overdrive for a No. 1 overall pick, but this was especially the case for Andrew Luck.
We heard for months how Luck was a complete quarterback at Stanford, the type of talent who was built -- both physically and mentally -- to excel at the next level.
So yes, the instant expectations of being a "pro-ready" QB provides one level of pressure for Luck as he begins his career with the Colts. But then there's the towering shadow of the man he replaces.
"Yes, he's replacing Peyton Manning, but Manning is no longer part of this team," defensive end Corey Redding told The Indianapolis Star. "Peyton did great things, but now it's Luck. He has to come in and not even think about that. He has to come in and do great things for this team. He can't have (Manning) in the back of his mind. This is the 2012 team. We're moving forward."
On one hand, Luck benefits from the Colts' fan base seeing what QB ineptitude looked like in the Kerry Collins/Curtis Painter/Dan Orlovsky trifecta that tried and failed to replace an injured Manning in 2011. But Luck also has to contend with the fact that Manning is still in the league and -- barring any setbacks with his neck -- will likely continue to be a big-time player.
It will be part of Luck's challenge to shut these kinds of outside factors out. This is not a very good Colts team as presently constituted, and he won't be expected to immediately return Indy to the postseason. But Luck enters the NFL under the assumption that he'll be a star. Much like Robert Griffin III in Washington -- another player Luck will be measured against -- fans and the media are expecting to be impressed.
Luck doesn't have to be the complete package in 2012, but he'll be expected to showcase glimpses of the superstar potential many think he has.