Luck's sterling debut creates major buzz

August, 12, 2012
8/12/12
5:09
PM ET
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At each stage of the process, Andrew Luck seems to provide some magic.

That was certainly the case Sunday as he played in his first NFL preseason game. The Colts' rookie quarterback’s first preseason throw, a little dump-off over the middle to running back Donald Brown, turned into a 63-yard touchdown pass as Brown turned and ran, finding the seas parting.

With an arm up, pumping in celebration, Luck chased the play excitedly, a big smile showing off a blue mouthpiece. He looked to the bench on one side; he looked toward one of the blockers who sprung the play on the other.

“Historic beginning!!!!!!!!!!!!!,” Colts owner Jim Irsay tweeted. “The legend has begun!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

The Colts' 38-3 thrashing of the Rams at Lucas Oil Stadium was the lone NFL preseason game of the day, and Luck fittingly offered a singular performance.

Peyton Manning’s first preseason toss with the Colts was a short pass to Marvin Harrison that went for a long touchdown, too.

Luck looked beyond comfortable and in command.

He knew where to go and delivered the ball in good spots. The protection was not always great, but he moved away from pressure and kept his eyes downfield, giving up on a handful of plays when he knew they weren’t going to turn into anything. He threw from the pocket and on the move.

An intermediate pass up the left side to rookie receiver T.Y. Hilton was just beyond the reach of Rams rookie corner Janoris Jenkins, and Hilton showed good footwork. Just in case it wasn’t good enough, Luck and the Colts' offense hustled to get the next snap off to avoid a challenge.

[+] EnlargeAndrew Luck
AP Photo/Michael ConroyAndrew Luck was all smiles after his first preseason pass with the Colts went for a touchdown.
Luck later kept a safety honest before hitting Austin Collie with a 23-yard TD strike.

He engineered a third scoring drive -- running back Delone Carter went airborne to get the ball over the goal line -- before yielding to Drew Stanton.

Irsay gave the rundown in a tweet: “n less than a half,#12 was 10/16..188 yards,2 TDS...142.7 QB rating..WOW..yes it's only the beginning in pre-season,but OH,WHAT a BEGINNING!”

Stanton and rookie Chandler Harnish were also on target against a wildly ineffective Rams defense.

It’s just a preseason performance, but it’s all Luck and the Colts have to offer right now.

I’d expect a decent day at the box office Monday, and I suspect that in Indiana, a few more Manning jerseys will get pushed closer to the back of closets, replaced by new No. 12s.

The defense also had a great showing, with eye-catching work from players like outside linebacker Jerry Hughes, inside linebacker Kavell Conner and defensive lineman Drake Nevis.

Chuck Pagano’s team has worked hard to do what the new coach and his staff have asked. A ton of work lies ahead, but the first checkpoint of the preseason couldn’t have been better, and the Colts now get a day to catch their breath.

They are scheduled to return to practice Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. and again at 1:50 p.m. They break camp Friday at Anderson University in Anderson, Ind., ending their dorm lives and heading home. The Colts' second test, coming next Sunday, will be tougher: a trip to Pittsburgh.

Luck has done nothing so far to reduce expectations for that, and well beyond.

Paul Kuharsky | email

ESPN Tennessee Titans reporter

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