INDIANAPOLIS — Bruce Arians' voice was hoarse Friday at the NFL Scouting Combine, the result he said of a night out with friends in his adopted hometown of Indianapolis.
Late in his media session, the former Colts offensive coordinator punctuated his passion for the host franchise by pointing toward his heart.
"There's a blue horseshoe in here forever," he said.
Arians was not so warm and fuzzy toward Indianapolis during the regular season when led his new team — the Arizona Cardinals — to a 40-11 dismantling of the Colts. In his first season as a head coach, Arians finished 10-6 and just one game shy of a playoff berth in the stacked NFC.
He felt like the Arizona offense was coming around to his standards in the final eight games of the season, and it's clear he believes the franchise is close to making an impact in the postseason.
From afar, Arians was impressed by the Colts' performance in this year's playoffs. In particular, he liked what he saw from former pupil Andrew Luck.
"I saw great improvement this year," Arians said. "I thought he carried that football team to the playoffs. And then his performance in the playoffs was one of the best I've ever seen. He just refuses to lose."
Luck's play in the postseason was even more impressive because it came without the services of veteran Reggie Wayne. The wide receiver suffered a season-ending knee injury in October, and there are questions about his ability to return at full strength in 2014.
Arians is not among the skeptics.
"He's so tough," Arians said. "He's the ultimate winner. There's no doubt in my mind he'll come back as good or better. He's going to work that hard to make sure he does."
JOHNNY BE GOOD: Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel used his much-anticipated news conference to paint himself as a small-town kid who still is adapting and learning from his mistakes.
He's made no secret of his desire to become the No. 1 overall pick and play for his home state Houston Texans. And he promises his hard-partying days are in the past.
"This is life now," Manziel said. "This is a job for me. I'm taking it very seriously, and I'm excited about the future."
He measured 5-foot-11 3/4 at Lucas Oil Stadium and clearly doesn't put much stock in the long-held belief that shorter quarterbacks are doomed to failure in the NFL. Drew Brees and Russell Wilson are recent examples of players who have broken from the mold.
"I play with a lot of heart," Manziel said. "I play with a lot of passion. I play like I'm 10 feet tall. Measurement to me is just a number."
ROLE MODEL: Tulane wide receiver Ryan Grant spent his college career playing in Reggie Wayne's hometown of New Orleans. The 6-foot, 197-pounder has a similar build as the Colts' all-pro and has drawn praise for his hands.
Grant said Wayne is one of the players he looks up to because of his ability to move the chains. Currently projected as a mid-round pick, could Grant see himself calling Indianapolis home?
"That'd be great, also," he said, having earlier praised the New Orleans Saints' offense. "Playing inside of a dome is never bad."
WON'T BACK DOWN: Several top prospects decline to throw during the combine each year. Ball State quarterback Keith Wenning understands it's a personal choice, but he never considered holding out of any drills this weekend.
"Some people may have their own opinion on things," he said. "I'm not going to hold anything back. I'm going to show what I can do."
Wenning set school records with 11,402 yards and 92 touchdowns. But he is considered a late-round prospect for May's draft.