Colts Keep Things Simple As Andrew Luck Returns To Game Action
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INDIANAPOLIS – The game plan was abundantly clear.
Ease Andrew Luck back into game action, with a majority of low risk throws, so the nervous quarterback could get used to thriving again in live settings.
Of Luck’s 6 completions on Thursday night, 4 were at or behind the line of scrimmage.
Outside of heavily targeting T.Y. Hilton a bit further down the field, Luck looked in the direction of his running backs and tight ends to lead the Colts on a pair of scoring drives.
“That’s exactly what we were hoping to get as far as him finding a rhythm, moving the ball,” head coach (and play caller) Frank Reich said after Luck’s 6-of-9 night for 84 yards in two series of work.
“Obviously, we want to finish in the end zone, have to finish in the end zone, but that was a good start there.”
The goal on Thursday was not for Luck to be chucking the ball vertically, especially with left tackle Anthony Castonzo back in Indianapolis.
In Training Camp, there’s been deeper throws as Luck’s arm strength has progressed in 9 practices at Grand Park.
Eventually, that will trickle into game action.
“It’s slowly but surely ramping up,” Luck says of his arm strength. “To be frank, I feel more comfortable right now with the intermediate and the short game, and the deep stuff is something we’re going to have to work on. And we will.
“It’s going to be a big part of this offense, so I’m excited for that. I don’t feel like I have a physical limitation holding me back.”
Luck’s emotions were running wild heading into Thursday night.
Playing in his first game in 585 days had Luck juggling a bunch of feelings before a game most starting quarterbacks stress little about.
“For a moment there, I thought how do I approach it? Especially leading up to the game, trying to control my emotions,” Luck said of his thoughts on Thursday morning. “I just said, ‘Screw it. Whatever I want to think and what I want to feel, I’m going to feel it and let that happen.’
“I felt like pressure was off of me in a sense. I really had fun. I really enjoyed it. I didn’t quite know how much fun I would have practicing football again. I didn’t know if I would have this much fun playing football. It’s a preseason game. I’m not going to blow anything out of proportion, but it’s still a game, still a chance to go up against another color jersey. It was a fun step along the way.”
On each of Luck’s two series of work, he took a hit (one via a scramble and the other coming off a sack).
Luck, like he always does, bounced up from each hit and continued to move the Colts down the field.
"That was probably the most excited I have been, and will ever be, to get hit,” Luck said about taking his first hit since Week 17 of the 2016 season. " Glad that I got out of the way. It was pretty cool to take the hit, realize I'm okay, then just get up and go."
Following Thursday’s preseason opener, Luck admitted that his accuracy on tight windows needs to improve, as does his timing with so many new skill guys.
The Colts have around a month to fine-tune those things before it gets really real on Sept. 9 vs. the Bengals.
For now, in the most uncontrolled setting he has been in since New Year’s Day 2017, Luck took another positive step.
"I think it is nice to maybe put a couple of questions that linger, as much as you don't want them to, to the back of your mind,” Luck said after the 19-17 victory. “'Will you be able to take a hit? Will you be able to do X, Y and Z?"
“So it eases a little bit of that anxiety that I kept alive and maybe game-type action could cure or alleviate."