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Matt Barkley: ‘I plan to start right away’

02.22.13 at 1:43 pm ET
By
Matt Barkley (AP)

Matt Barkley (AP)

INDIANAPOLIS — Matt Barkley knows that the game has changed.

The quarterback out of USC realizes that the rookie signal-callers who emerged as offensive stars last season — most notably Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III — have made the idea of a rookie quarterback starting right out of the gate more realistic than ever before.

“There’s been a lot of comparisons recently to last year’s rookie class. Those guys came in right away and played and made their marks,” Barkley said. “I think there’s always going to be that comparison, whether it’s just or unjust. And I don’t feel like there’s a lot of pressure on my part to live up to them. I know every situation is different, whatever player is going into is going to be different as what they went into last year. I don’t feel there’s any need to live up to what they lived up to. I have my standards, and hopefully, those are high enough.”

And even though Barkley isn’t throwing this week at the combine — he’s coming off shoulder surgery — with that in mind, he has a clear idea of what he wants to accomplish when he gets to the NFL.

“I plan to start right away,” he replied Friday afternoon. “My goal is to be playing in September.”

Barkley, who said he was on track when it came to his rehab (he’s been working with a team of doctors, including Dr. Neal ElAttrache, the same guy who performed Tom Brady‘s knee surgery back in 2008), added he would be able to perform fully at USC’s Pro Day next month. The 22-year-old, who threw for 3,273 yards this past season with the Trojans, was asked about the suggestion he doesn’t have an NFL arm.

“I would disagree,” and added he was going to be healthy enough to make all the throws.

“I think there’s always something to prove,” he added. “I think you’re always looking for ways to better yourself. At this point in my career, there’s definitely things I can improve on and there’s always something to improve. It seems right now that I’m working my way up, as opposed to already being on the top — which is a position I’ve been in both cases before. There’s always something to prove, and I’m out to prove something.”

Of course, Barkley faces some preconceived ideas about USC quarterbacks and their recent missteps at the next level, a group that includes Mark Sanchez and Matt Leinart.

“I know they’ve done great things — there have been some great USC quarterbacks to do some things in the NFL,” Barkley said when asked about their failures at the professional level. “My situation and my story is different than all those other guys. I don’t think you can put everyone in the same mold. You can look across the board at any other school and there [are] quarterbacks who have done anything. I know what I’m capable of, and I wouldn’t be so quick to put a mold around me.”

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