The king is dead; long live the king! After a year-and-a-half without an organizational rudder, the new-look Indianapolis Colts finally took the field in a (sort of) real game when they hosted the St. Louis Rams in the teams' 2012 preseason opener on August 12. For Colts fans still trying to recover from the loss of legendary quarterback Peyton Manning, there was no doubt coming into this contest that the main attraction would be first overall draft pick Andrew Luck in his NFL debut. From his first snap, Luck did his absolute best impression of a legend in the making, connecting on a 63-yard touchdown pass to running back Donald Brown and igniting the home fans. I was on my feet with all the other Hoosiers anxious to jump on this revamped bandwagon in full force, and, while there is plenty of reason for caution, optimism wins out this Sunday.
You might look at that opening play and downgrade Luck's involvement a bit since he basically dumped a short pass to Brown, who then did most of the work to get into the end zone. But if you have followed the Colts over the past couple of seasons, then you know that Brown has done little to excite the hometown fans, and this play may be an indication that his strong second half in 2011 was not a fluke. He also received strong blocking down the field, which bodes well for the Colts offense under the young gun Luck. If the makeshift offensive line can round into form and rookie tight ends Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen can provide consistent blocking, then Luck's job will be a whole lot easier.
On the day, Luck completed 10 of 18 passes for 188 yards and two touchdowns, and he was untouched in terms of sacks or interceptions. The Colts moved the ball very well on the ground and had some nice pass plays en route to their 38-3 win, but maybe the real story of the game was how feeble the Rams' offense looked against the Colts' new defensive unit. Netting just 215 yards on 14 first downs, St. Louis couldn't get anything at all going against Indy, and the much-maligned Jerry Hughes broke into the backfield to sack Kellen Clemens twice. Significantly, the Colts completely shut down the Rams' running game, allowing just 68 yards on 24 carries.
In the end, we have to remember that this was an exhibition game, the first under the Colts' new regime. Still, all aspects of Indianapolis' game looked much better than the mess we witnessed last season, and Colts fans can't help but have a happy feeling as another workweek dawns.
Adam Hughes was raised, and still lives, in rural Indiana. He has been a Colts fans since the team arrived in Indianapolis on a snowy morning in 1984. The Blue and White eventually replaced the Chicago Bears as his #1 team, and Super Bowl XLI was a dream come true.
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