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.
Thursday’s preseason game was arguably the biggest contest for the Colts since Luck played in his first as a rookie in 2012. And the game wasn’t about him throwing touchdowns, for a lot of yards or having 30 pass attempts. It was about seeing him make continued progress.
Luck had passed every test he faced during training camp while continuing his journey back from missing the 2017 season due to a right-shoulder injury he originally suffered in Week 3 of 2015. But the quarterback — and the rest of the organization — wanted to see how he would perform when he wasn’t wearing the red non-contact jersey in practice and he had to face a defense that could hit him. The Colts wanted Luck to work on his rhythm, have his game-day adrenaline flowing again, and take a hit or two in his first game in 585 days.
He passed each one of those tests.
Luck, who has been sacked 156 times in his career, was sacked when Joe Haeg, starting in place of the injured Anthony Castonzo (hamstring), was badly beaten off the edge by Seahawks defensive end Rasheem Green. There was no suspense wondering how Luck felt because he got right up.
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 to work with. 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 not to 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.
The Colts will likely 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.