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The Indianapolis Colts need to figure out this month what they have with Andrew Luck. If he has lost anything after a season off due to shoulder surgery, the Colts need to know before the regular season and adjust accordingly.
Colts coach Frank Reich didn’t take it easy on Luck on Thursday night in his first game back since the end of the 2016 season. Against the Seattle Seahawks in Indianapolis’ preseason opener, Reich had Luck move out of the pocket. He had him line up in empty sets. Luck even scrambled and ran on third down, which caused everyone to hold their breath. Luck threw seven times on his first drive back.
And while it was a fairly short outing in a preseason game, Luck looked good.
How did Andrew Luck’s arm look in his first game back?
It’s hard to get a great gauge of Luck’s arm strength, post-surgery, based on what we saw Thursday night. Most of the Colts’ plays were quick throws, designed to get the ball out fast to the Colts’ playmakers.
However, there were some positives. Luck consistently made good decisions, which was nice after so much time off. Also, he threw with good velocity on a few shorter throws. He delivered a nice, strong toss to T.Y. Hilton on a short third-down completion on his first drive. On his second drive, Luck fired one over the middle to Jack Doyle for 9 yards and a first down. Those weren’t long throws but they seemed to have good velocity.
We didn’t see the full arsenal of throws from Luck, but what we saw looked good. Luck completed five of his seven attempts on his first drive for 55 yards. He finished 6-of-9 for 64 yards and led two good drives that ended in field goals before Jacoby Brissett took over. The Colts should be happy with that start.
Luck took his first hit, too
Luck passed another test too, when he took a hit from Seahawks star linebacker Bobby Wagner.
On a third down, Luck’s instincts took over. None of his receivers were open and Luck saw a lane so he ran straight ahead. Since quarterbacks don’t take live hits during practice, he had to brace for his first big hit in more than a year-and-a-half. Wagner hit him on the right side – the same arm that he had surgery on his shoulder – short of the first down. The result of the play didn’t matter as much as Luck popping right up. He took a sack on his second drive too, from rookie Rasheem Green, and no problem there either.
The Colts couldn’t afford to simply protect Luck through the preseason, and part of that is him getting hit. No problem in his first game back.
Luck passes first test
Luck’s recovery has been a major story for the past two offseasons. While the Colts pushed positive reports all last year, Luck never played. When a quarterback misses a season in his prime due to a throwing shoulder injury, that’s scary.
It’s not like Luck is all the way back just because of a handful of throws in a preseason game. We’ll need to see him make all the throws, and over a longer period of time, before we know if he has lost anything.
But as far as first tests go, it went well. That’s great news for Luck, and the NFL.
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