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."