The NFL’s preseason schedule kicked off in full on Thursday night with 12 games, and while the guys you’ll see on Sundays starting next month didn’t get a whole lot of action, there was still plenty to talk about. Here’s what you need to know.
A fun night for Luck
After missing all of 2017 with a shoulder injury, Colts quarterback Andrew Luck saw his first in-game action since Week 17 of the 2016 season and came out of it none the worse for wear, even after taking a couple of hits from the Seahawks.
“It was a little bit of the pressure was off, in a sense, and I really had fun,” said Luck, who completed 6 of 9 passes for 64 yards in two series of work. “I really enjoyed it. I didn’t quite know if I would have this much fun again playing football.”
Luck was taken down on a one-yard scramble by Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner — he said it was the “most excited I have been and will ever be for getting hit” — and also was sacked by Rasheem Green. But he bounced right back up and high-fived tight end Jack Doyle. And while most of his passes were hardly deep bombs, Luck said they will return to his repertoire in time.
“To be frank, I’ve been more comfortable with the intermediate and short game,” Luck said. “The deep game is something we’re going to have to work on and we will. It’s going to be a big part of our offense. I know it’s been a big part of every successful year we’ve had. I’m excited for that. I don’t feel like I have a physical limitation holding me back. I think I’ve proven to myself that I can start to make these throws and to work on them. That’s going to be another focus.”
Capt. Andrew Luck, America’s greatest Civil War-themed NFL-parody Twitter account, was in similarly high spirits:
Barkley wastes no time
When you’re a star running back and you’re chosen with the second pick in the draft and you’re playing in New York, expectations might be a teensy bit high. Saquon Barkley did not seem overwhelmed by this on his first NFL carry, showing veteran-level patience and burst on a 39-yard rumble.
The New York Post’s Steve Serby asked Barkley afterward what he liked best about the run.
“The patience,” he said. “Everyone’s talking about the speed’s different in the NFL and still be able to see that you’ve got that burst, you can get through that line of scrimmage like that and create space. Just got to find a way to even gain more yards on that play. Every time I touch the ball I think I should have scored, that’s just my mind-set.”
Barkley’s first run was his best: He played just two series and finished with 43 rushing yards on five attempts.
“The fans love him already,” Giants tight end Evan Engram told Serby. “But definitely they’re going to love him some more after he gets some more of those.”
Baker Mayfield, the only player drafted ahead of Barkley, had a similarly strong debut for the Browns, completing 11 of 20 passes for 212 yards and two touchdowns, including a 54-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Callaway on his final attempt.
Tyrod Taylor, who started the game for Cleveland and is almost certain to be the team’s starter when the regular season begins, also looked strong, completing all five of his pass attempts for 99 yards, a touchdown and a perfect passer rating of 158.3.
INJURIES OF NOTE
Colts: While Luck stayed healthy, the same can’t be said for running back Marlon Mack, who started Thursday against the Seahawks but left with a hamstring injury after rushing four times for nine yards and catching two passes for 23 yards. Mack carried the ball 98 times as a rookie last season and scored three times, but the Colts’ backfield was thought to be in flux after they drafted Nyheim Hines (three carries, seven yards on Thursday night) in the fourth round and Jordan Wilkins (six carries, 21 yards) in the fifth. Robert Turbin led Indianapolis with six carries for 27 yards against Seattle.
49ers: Tight end George Kittle and running back Matt Breida both left Thursday’s game against the Cowboys with shoulder injuries, and Coach Kyle Shanahan said afterward that expects both to miss time. Kittle has been described as quarterback Jimmy Garappolo’s “favorite target,” and another report has deemed Breida “the best running back on the team” so far in training camp.
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