But this looked good Saturday, really good. Luck was on the field nearly three hours before kickoff of the Indianapolis Colts NFL preseason game with the Cleveland Browns – the Browns won 21-18, if you must know … but why must you know that? – and he was doing footwork drills. And he wasnt merely moving forward and backward. Thats easy stuff, kid stuff, and it doesnt tax his calf and his high ankle-ish area the way moving laterally does.
Luck was moving sideways, chop-stepping over pads placed on the turf by Colts quarterback coach Marcus Brady. Its the kind of movement Luck hasnt been able to do without pain, which is why he shut down his rehabilitation from that April calf strain on July 30, three days into training camp. Luck was moving sideways Saturday, and he was smiling as he did it, and he was talking, literally talking to Brady as he was unloading a pass down the field. And then he was giggling.
Gathers never did much of anything except look really imposing in pads on the sidelines in three seasons in Dallas. If he can’t do more than that in the next couple of weeks with the Browns, it’s hard to see Gathers sticking around. Here’s hoping he gets a couple of offensive series to get his feet wet and maybe some special teams reps.
Colts defeated by Browns, 21-18: Instant analysis
For a fan base growing restless, desperate for a reason to believe, Saturday was a significant milestone along that road. Until Saturday, every sign we had, every suggestion, was that Luck wouldnt be able to play in the season opener Sept. 8 at the Los Angeles Chargers. And maybe he wont play there. Again, this is an Andrew Luck health story. And the only thing we know about an Andrew Luck health story is that we have no idea how it will end. Or if it will end. Ever.
But until Saturday, all the news was bad, all trends pointing the wrong way. His calf strain wasnt going away, then it was said to have moved into his ankle – the high ankle-ish area, as Colts general manager Chris Ballard had told us – and then he was being shut down for the rest of camp. Wouldnt play in the preseason.
Since Brown’s very impressive performance at the Orange and Brown scrimmage a couple of weeks ago, the Browns have created new competition for the big pass-catching tight end. Signing Rico Gathers and dumping Orso Charles, who was the team’s erstwhile fullback and move TE, is a direct challenge for Brown.
Then coach Frank Reich issued an ultimatum that just sounded ominous: The Colts, he said this week, will need to know by the end of the third preseason game (against the visiting Chicago Bears on Aug. 24) if Luck will be ready for the season-opener at Los Angeles – or if the Colts should prepare backup Jacoby Brissett.
But along comes Saturday, bringing us a smile and a giggle and video of Luck moving in ways weve been told he cant move, not without pain in the calf or ankle or Os Trigonum or wherever the hell it hurts.
First, the news. In addition to Lucks pregame workout, Brissett looked like an actual NFL quarterback against the Browns. And while we know Brissett is an actual NFL quarterback – he threw for 3,098 yards, 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions in 15 starts in 2017 in place of the injured Luck (shoulder) – he hasnt looked much like one this month. Not in training camp against the Colts defense, not in Buffalo against the Bills in the preseason opener, not in Westfield earlier this week during joint practices with the Browns.
Then came Saturday, when Brissett went 8-for-10 for 100 yards and a touchdown, good for a passer rating of 141.7. True, he threw one pass that was nearly intercepted. But it wasnt intercepted, was it? And why are you always so negative? Anyway, Brissett completed his last six passes, the final one a 12-yard rope into the back corner of the end zone to tight end Eric Ebron, whos still doing what he does: score touchdowns.
It’s often a thankless job being the No. 4 QB when everyone knows the team is keeping just three quarterbacks. Blough sits in that role for the Browns right now, and the man immediately above him, Garrett Gilbert, played pretty well in the Redskins game.
For the first time in a month, the Colts on Saturday looked like they had a workable Plan B in case Andrew Luck cant play in the opener.
Chris Hubbard, Cleveland Browns vs. Indianapolis Colts, Damon Sheehy-Guiseppi, David Blough, Eric Kush, Greg Joseph, Jaelen Strong, Mack Wilson, NFL Preseason Week 2, Pharaoh Brown, Rico Gathers, Latest Browns News, Preseason
Know what? The Colts looked like they had a workable Plan C, too. Phillip Walker, the third-year quarterback out of Temple, was dynamite. The stat sheet will show he completed 10 of 17 passes for 109 yards, but the stat sheet is a damn liar. You know that.
I thought Hubbard looked very good in his reps against Washington. Granted it was just seven of them on the wildly successful opening drive, but the starting right tackle displayed balance and solid technique.
Walker had four passes dropped … well, he had three passes dropped. A fourth one, the longest one, a potential 38-yard touchdown, fell incomplete because Zach Pascal wasnt looking. Heres how Pascal learned the ball was coming his way: It smacked him in the face, 30 yards down the field, as he ran between two defenders.
A few days ago, the Colts had no quarterbacks worth a damn. The only one who looked good against the Bills was Chad Kelly, and hes been suspended for the first two games for being a recidivist knucklehead. Here they were Saturday with three who looked good! Well, Chad Kelly looked good, too (12-for-17 for 115 yards, a touchdown and a 108.7 passer rating). So thats four quarterbacks who looked good.
These are the omens I referenced earlier. One was Blue, the Colts mascot, who ventured high up onto the concourse for his regular schtick where he tries to throw the ball over 25 or 30 rows of fans into a blue barrel in the end zone. Its an impossible throw, just too much to ask of anyone, especially someone wearing a giant fluffy horse costu—OH MY WORD BLUE JUST THREW THE BALL INTO THE BARREL!
And then, later, the Colts wheeled a large orange contraption onto the field. A trash receptacle, Im calling it. It was for another regular promotion at Colts game, the Rays Trash Pass for Cash. For this one, a fan stands about 20 yards from the receptacle and tries to throw a football into an opening about the size of a 19-inch television.
So the fan throwing the ball Saturday, a U.S. Army staff sergeant named Richard Harrison, walks onto the field. And hes wearing an Andrew Luck jersey. Getting goosebumps yet? OK, goosebumps is a bit much. Its a trash promotion. But still …
The guy in the Andrew Luck jersey walks onto the field, pretty much the same spot where the actual Andrew Luck had been working out earlier. And hours after the real Andrew Luck did his drills and made his throws and smiled his smile – and giggled his giggle – the Army staff sergeant in Lucks No. 12 jersey zinged a bullet right into the trash receptacle. He won a handful of cash for the USO of Indiana. The crowd, of course, went nuts.
What does any of it mean? No way to know. Colts coach Frank Reich was guarded afterward, saying he had no update on Luck. Theyre tired of talking about it, is my guess. Tired of guessing and speculating and raising fans hopes. Tired of not knowing.
But for weeks the signs have leaned one way, the bad way. And now theyre leaning the other way. The good way. It looks like Andrew Luck smiling. It sounds like him giggling.
And this is what it felt like Saturday: Like the Colts lost a preseason game, and finally took a step in the right direction.
INDIANAPOLIS — The Browns play their second preseason game on Saturday afternoon against the Indianapolis Colts. The game comes a few days after the Browns and Colts took part in two heated practices that resulted in multiple fights.
The Browns first-team offense accomplished what it wanted against Washington and, as is usually the case, we dont know who is and isnt going to play and for how long on Saturday. Its unlikely well see Odell Beckham Jr., but it wouldnt be a surprise if Baker Mayfield got a series or two along with some other first-teamers. Same goes for the defense.
The Browns will have to say farewell to Hunt for eight games once the regular season opens, so this is their chance to get a real look at him and figure out how they want to use him once he is allowed to play.
Hunt is a perfect complement to Nick Chubb. The Browns can split him out wide or use him in the slot, or they can just line him up in the backfield and hand him the ball to give Chubb a break.
Hunts ability to play now opens up the possibility that the Browns could just put Chubb in bubble wrap and get him to Sept. 8.
Strong started making plays a few days before the Orange and Brown Scrimmage two Saturdays ago and it has continued ever since. He seems to have good rapport with Baker Mayfield and that can take a wide receiver a long way — just ask Rashard Higgins.
Strongs return is one of the good stories so far of camp. Lets see him put together a few more strong performances to make himself a virtual lock.