Insider Zak Keefer and columnist Gregg Doyel discuss the Indianapolis Colts victory over the 49ers.
Clark Wade / IndyStar
INDIANAPOLIS – For stretches it looked and felt like 2015, except for one very important thing: that throbbing, damaged right shoulder, the one to Hell, who was the last two and a half years for Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts.
It does not hurt anymore. "Feels awesome," happiness shone Saturday night.
Nevertheless, he was a one-man band in the third and most important preseason game of the Colts, playing behind a leaky offensive line, aided by no running game at all, wearing a unit and a team as far as his talents can.
More: Colts security Malik Hooker at the return: "It felt great to be out there again"
The Indianapolis Colt beat the San Francisco 49ers 23-17 in preseason play.
Clark Wade / IndyStar
Even the audible wheezing was back, these moments of concern at the Lucas Oil Stadium each time Luck's surgically fixed throwing shoulder was hit in the grass, which was too often Saturday night , To make the city a great deal easier, the $ 140 million fiendish quarterback jumped to his feet and smiled, anxious for more.
But for too long, it felt like this team was flirting with a disaster.
Disaster was averted, and if San Francisco's 23:17 victory over the San Francisco 49ers was as close as Andrew Luck will look in the upcoming 2018 season, as we'll get, it was enough. He was sharp and smart, his dynamic athletic ability was visible for a minute, his revived right shoulder threw the next dime. It was a complete performance, as Luck wrote this preseason: 8 for 10 for 90 yards and a fantastic touchdown throw for Eric Ebron, plus four scamper out of pocket for 27 yards (and three Ricky Henderson slides!)  More than ever before last month, he looked like the Andrew Luck of old.
"I will not lie to you, I feel really good and strong," Luck said the most important element in this entire preseason. "My shoulder felt alive, I was a little happier with the ball when I threw it in. A little more sense," I want to return the Ryan (Grant) on the sidelines. "Well, it ended where I wanted it. "
" I feel and see improvements … I feel a lot more self-confident, I feel I (have) proved myself. "
Clark Wade / IndyStar
He came to the training camp in late July and talked about how much he wanted to support his words. He has …
And just for the sake of the old days, Luck did it all as he used to: with very little help. Two backup-offensive tackles that routinely ran him for his life; a running game that produced all five yards in the first half (excluding scrambles by the quarterback); a receiving core, which at this time T.Y. Hilton and a series of question marks
And that's the problem. In most cases, Luck seems to do that for himself.
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) runs Saturday, August 25, 2018, in the first half of his preseason football game at Lucas Oil Stadium. (Photo: Matt Kryger / IndyStar)
On the other side of the coin, the preseason remains pointless as it is. The Colts were punished in August – exceptionally – and purposefully – with Vanilla. The constant movement that the team introduced during the training camp in Westfield under new coach Frank Reich and new coordinator Nick Sirianni (staff changes, moves, shifts, run-pass options, deep shots) was not seen. As Reich put it, they store the good stuff for "when it matters."
It counts two weeks from Sunday, the regular season opener of the team against the Cincinnati Bengals.
"As a caller on the side, I could feel the rhythm offensive," Reich said Saturday night, encouraged by the offensive improvement he saw. "I could feel it was there, all I have to do is get more points."
Although it's not certain, Anthony Castonzo, who has been the left tackle for this team for the past seven years, is an important component This offensive line is expected back. With last month 's Castonzo injuring this agonizing Achilles tendon, the Colts have had absolutely no success in the tackle positions.
With their projected return, they do not have to help on the left side so they can add another blocker – one returning a tight end – on the right. This point, which was in the air like any other in the squad, would have suffered another heavy blow on Saturday night when Denzelle Good fired a shot into the inside of his left knee. Good, finally back, after fighting a second-rate hamstring early in the camp, he set the target and started the tape to secure it.
"I definitely think I have a chance to be this guy," Good said. "I can not read the coach's thoughts, but I can give them what they want."  Indianapolis Colts close end Eric Ebron (85) celebrates his touchdown with Andrew Luck (12) in the first half of his preseason football game at Lucas Oil Stadium Saturday, August 25, 2018. "width =" 540 "data-mycapture-src = "https://www.gannett-cdn.com/presto/2018/08/26/PIND/ed5c8468-1569-4b0d-95e0-f15a5ba61160-Colts49ers_mk_05.jpg" data-mycapture-sm-src = "https: / /www.gannett-cdn.com/presto/2018/08/26/PIND/ed5c8468-1569-4b0d-95e0-f15a5ba61160-Colts49ers_mk_05.jpg?width=435&height=400"/>
Indianapolis Colts close end Eric Ebron (85) celebrates his touchdown with Andrew Luck (12) in the first half of their preseason football game at Lucas Oil Stadium Saturday, August 25, 2018. (Photo: Matt Kryger / IndyStar)
A Sunday morning scan on Knee's weight shows in his knee, swearing that he felt "no pain" late Saturday night, but admitted that it feels "a bit loose."
Goods Status f adds an insult to the insult. The Colts starter on Saturday night, Austin Howard, was beaten so badly in the first third of the game that the coaches tore him up. He is not the answer there. Is Braden Smith the beginner? Joe Haeg? J & # 39; Marcus Webb? At this point even Reich realized that they are looking for a solution.
(Another injury, defensive lineman John Simon finished the game on Saturday with a neck injury, the same part of the body that cost him seven games in 2017. He will also look closer on Sunday.)
On the other Side of the ball, the unit of coordinator Matt Eberflus makes a mediocre imitation of the bend-don-break mantras that Tony Dungy's seems to embody Tampa-2 scheme. Like in: The first team of the 49ers turned back on Saturday night at will, especially on the ground. San Francisco's Alfred Morris, who was pulled off the road less than a month ago after the Niners suffered a plethora of injuries at the position, shot 84 light yards with 17 jerseys.
And if this goes into the regular season – and it will – that's another problem for this unproven defense of the Colts. The teams will be on the run to prepare for the game action, and Indy's corners will not be good enough to stop the bleeding.
The only anchor that keeps hope alive is the franchise quarterback recharged after a year of progress every day and every week. Forget the lousy run game, the questions in combat or the mediocre defense.
Andrew Luck had no setbacks this month, and for Saturday's section, the Saturday night looked like the Andrew Luck of Old.
Nothing for the The Team Could Be Bigger
Call Star Reporter Zak Keefer at (317) 444-6134 and follow him on Twitter: @zkeefer.