Colts’ Luck: First game in 585 days ‘felt natural’

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Updated: August 10, 2018

3:13 AM ET

SEATTLE — Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck didn’t get hit once in his first game in 19 months. He got hit twice. The best part about both of those hits was that Luck immediately got up without having any issues with his surgically repaired right shoulder.

Luck, playing his first game since Week 17 of the 2016 season, led the Colts on scoring drives that both ended with field goals against the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday.

“It was a little bit of the pressure was off, in a sense, and I really had fun,” Luck said. “I really enjoyed it. I didn’t quite know if I would have this much again playing football.”

Thursday’s preseason game was arguably the biggest contest for the Colts since Luck played in his first as a rookie in 2012. Luck spent Thursday morning going for a walk and even had some espresso while dealing with nervousness.

For Luck, the game wasn’t about throwing touchdowns, throwing for a lot of yards or having 30 pass attempts. It was about seeing him make continued progress.

Colts RB Mack injures hamstring vs. Seahawks

Marlon Mack, who got the start at running back in Thursday’s preseason opener against the Seahawks, injured his hamstring during the game.

“I think it is nice to maybe to put a couple of questions that linger, as much as you don’t want to, to the back of your mind,” Luck said. “‘Will you be able to take a hit?’ So it eases a little bit of that anxiety of that I kept alive that only maybe game-type action could cure or alleviate, per se.”

New Colts coach Frank Reich didn’t play it conservatively by pounding the ball on the ground to protect Luck. He mixed it up with some quick throws and some intermediate throws down the field while having a clean pocket up the middle with which to work. The Colts attempted seven passes during their 12-play, 60-yard opening drive that ended with an Adam Vinatieri 33-yard field goal.

The plan going in was for Luck to not play more than a quarter. That changed when the first quarter finished with Luck in the middle of leading the Colts down the field again. That drive ended with another field goal, but it also featured Luck looking comfortable in leading the offense. His night was over after that second series and saw him go 6-of-9 for 64 yards.

“[Luck’s] demeanor was a lot of fun,” Reich said. “The emotions were flowing. He was pretty jacked up. So it was fun to see that.”

A part of the Colts’ offensive game that was absent was deep throws down the field, something Luck has excelled at throughout his career. The 17-yard completion Luck made to running back Marlon Mack was off a quick pass in the flat.

“To be frank, I’ve been more comfortable with the intermediate and short game,” Luck said. “The deep game is something we’re going to have to work on and we will. It’s going to be a big part of our offense. I know it’s been a big part of every successful year we’ve had. I’m excited for that. I don’t feel like I have a physical limitation holding me back. I think I’ve proven to myself that I can start to make these throws and to work on them. That’s going to be another focus.”

Another “milepost” has been reached for Luck. The Colts are likely to increase Luck’s playing time in each of the next two preseason games. He’ll start their Week 1 game against the Cincinnati Bengals, barring any kind of setback.

Article source: http://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/24335759/andrew-luck-indianapolis-colts-quarterback-healthy-first-game-2016