5 Things Learned: Colts Beat Seattle, Andrew Luck Returns To Game Action
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INDIANAPOLIS – A large chunk of normalcy returned to the Indianapolis Colts on Thursday night, and they did it in winning fashion, too.
Frank Reich’s debut as a head coach saw Andrew Luck lead a pair of early scoring drives, as the Colts held on to beat the Seahawks, 19-17, on Thursday.
What did we learn from the Colts winning their preseason opener in Seattle?
FIVE THINGS LEARNED
- Luck Passes Another Big Test: Like the Stanford educated man you would expect, Andrew Luck continues to pass the tests. Thursday’s test wasn’t easy and something Luck had not experienced in 585 days. But Luck earned a very nice letter grade after going 6-of-9 for 84 yards, leading field goal drives in both of his series of work. Luck took a couple of hits on Thursday night, the first he had taken in more than 19 months. The quarterback connected on high-percentage throws, while moving into Seattle territory with the starting offense. It was a very solid 2018 debut in a game setting, no matter the month or how many snaps Luck played.
- Starting Defense Struggles: Russell Wilson’s one series of work saw him carve up the Indy starting defense with relative ease. The 12-play, 80-yard touchdown drive had Seattle face just one third down. Yes, the Colts were without safeties Malik Hooker and Clayton Geathers on Thursday night. But it’s still a unit that lacks playmaking off the edge and at cornerback. For a team making such a drastic change defensively, the Colts just don’t have enough individual talent to easily rise in the league standings. Creating a pass rush and finishing plays to get off the field remain major question marks.
- Need Anthony Castonzo Healthy ASAP: If anyone needed confirmation of how valuable Anthony Castonzo is to the Colts, just pop in some film from Thursday’s first half. Both Joe Haeg and J’Marcus Webb were beat one-on-one for sacks. Yes, the Colts should have probably given those two backup tackles some help in pass blocking, but then that restricts how creative you can be with your skill players. Castonzo, who re-injured his hamstring last Friday, isn’t expected back to practice this week. Sticking with the tackle position, this right tackle job might still be up for grabs. Favorite Austin Howard did not start on Thursday, but was healthy and did play with the second unit. It was Webb, who was signed earlier in camp, who got the starting nod at right tackle. This bears monitoring next week.
- Hassan Ridgeway Dominates Second Half: A definite surprise on Thursday was the disruptive outing from Hassan Ridgeway. The third-year defensive tackle had 2.0 sacks and was routinely in the backfield going up against Seattle’s reserve linemen. Coming into camp, Ridgeway was probably just on the outside of keeping his 53-man roster spot. But his production Thursday night can’t be ignored as the Colts try to find depth at defensive tackle. Ridgeway was a fourth-round pick in 2016. However, he did not produce a whole lot in the old 3-4 system.
- Couple Injuries To Watch: The Colts did have two injuries to a pair of young skill guys on Thursday. Running back Marlon Mack left late in the first quarter with a hamstring injury. And Deon Cain injured a knee and didn’t return. The severity of both injuries is not yet known. Mack’s presence is absolutely vital with the Colts already down Robert Turbin for the first four games of the season. Cain has really impressed in Training Camp, but needs to translate that to the game, before the Colts hand him major minutes as a rookie.
-Injury Report: The following players did not dress due to injury: C-Deyshawn Bond (concussion), OT-Tyreek Burwell (knee), OT-Anthony Castonzo (hamstring), RB-Josh Ferguson (undisclosed), WR-Reece Fountain (knee), S-Clayton Geathers (knee), OL-Denzelle Good (hamstring), S-Malik Hooker (knee), DL-Tyquan Lewis (foot), CB-Chris Milton (undisclosed), DT-Caraun Reid (undisclosed), DE-Kemoko Turay (knee), LB-Anthony Walker (groin). The following players left the game with injuries: RB-Marlon Mack (hamstring), WR-Deon Cain (knee) and WR-James Wright (knee). The severity of their injuries is not yet known.
-Key Stat: Adam Vinatieri deserves a game ball after going 3-of-3 on field goals, connecting from 33, 51 and 45 yards.
-What’s Next: The Colts will return to Grand Park on Saturday for one final week of Training Camp. The time in Westfield will conclude with joint practice against the Ravens next Friday and Saturday before the two teams meet on Monday Night Football (Aug. 20) in Week Two of the preseason.