Colts’ notebook: Andrew Luck battled emotions, then got to work

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - SEPTEMBER 09: Quarterback Andrew Luck #12 of the Indianapolis Colts passes the ball during the second half of the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 9, 2018 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Bobby Ellis/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – One of the busiest days of his NFL life was about to unfold, and Andrew Luck was battling butterflies in the Indianapolis Colts’ locker room at Lucas Oil Stadium.

He had already gotten a good night’s sleep, enjoyed a nice breakfast and made his way to the stadium as his internal autopilot kicked in.

“I was like, ‘OK, take a left and then a right on Capitol and then go around . . .’ so that was routine,’’ Luck said.

Then, the magnitude of the moment hit for someone who last played in a regular season game Jan. 1, 2017.

“Emotions crept up and just sort of hit me sitting at the locker before we were going out as a team for introductions and to play the game,’’ Luck said. “I think overwhelmingly, I just felt grateful and appreciative to be here.

“That may sound cheesy, but I was so excited to get to run on the field as a Colt and to get to play with T.Y. and Jack and Vinny and the new guys. It was fun. And then the game got going and you’re in the game and it’s one play at a time.’’

What followed, other than the 34-23 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, was Luck clearing yet another hurdle on his determined comeback from January 2017 shoulder surgery that forced him to miss all of last season.

He opened the game with a bad decision that resulted in a forced pass to Jack Doyle that Cincinnati linebacker Preston Brown intercepted. Even with that, Luck completed 39-of-53 passes for 319 yards with the interception and a 5-yard touchdown to Hilton.

“I thought his accuracy was good,’’ Frank Reich said. “I thought he was really poised.’’

The 39 completions were a personal best and one short of tying Peyton Manning’s team record. The 53 attempts tied the third-most in Luck’s career, and just the seventh time he’s attempted more than 50 in a game.

Offensive line reshaped

A hamstring injury forced Anthony Castonzo to miss his first season opener since being selected in the first round of the 2011 draft. It also forced the Colts to shuffle things. Right tackle Joe Haeg moved to left tackle and J’Marcus Webb replaced Haeg on the right side.

At first glance, Reich gave the line a passing grade. It allowed Luck to be sacked twice and hit on another seven occasions on his 53 attempts.

“My quick assessment from the protection was . . . all day I thought it was pretty good,’’ he said. I thought there were plenty of times where Andrew had a lot of time. I thought he was good in the pocket at buying time.

“They had pressures a couple of times. I think one of the sacks was more coverage sack that anything else.’’

Haeg, who made his first career start at left tackle, accepted Reich’s praise, calling it “a testament to everyone: quarterback with good pocket presence, wide receivers were getting open and it’s really a team thing.’’

Medical update

Cornerback Chris Milton didn’t return after being diagnosed with a concussion in the third quarter.

This and that

Defensive end Margus Hunt produced the Colts’ two sacks. . . . Rookie linebacker Darius Leonard was credited with a team-high nine tackles, including six solos. . . . Luck’s 39 completions went to nine different receivers. Ryan Grant led the way with a career-high eight catches for 59 yards.

You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.

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