Colts’ Andrew Luck: Fun to get back out there

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NASHVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 27: Andrew Luck #12 of the Indianapolis Colts celebrates a touchdownl during the game against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field on September 27, 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – It had been 286 days between meaningful snaps for Andrew Luck.

It was as if he had never been away.

On the same Lucas Oil Stadium field that saw his 2015 season end with a lacerated kidney, Luck stepped behind rookie center Ryan Kelly Saturday night and directed the first two series as the Indianapolis Colts met the Baltimore Ravens.

“It felt like a long time,’’ he said after the 19-18 loss to the Ravens. “It’s good to be out there. It was fun, a lot of fun.’’

The game was the first competitive appearance by Luck since he suffered a lacerated kidney and abdominal injury Nov. 8 against the Denver Broncos. A variety of injuries forced him to miss the first nine starts of his four-year career.

At long last, he was back in his element.

“Yeah, I needed to get out there,’’ Luck said. “It’s like breathing. You just need  more of it. It’s like oxygen.

“I didn’t quite think about the first hit, (but) you still get nervous and the butterflies . . . you can’t help but get excited. It’s a chance to wear the Colts uniform and go against another team. Those don’t come around that often.’’

Any rust apparently had been knocked off during training camp. Luck completed all eight of his passes for 69 yards and scrambled twice for 12 yards. He drew one of the loudest ovations of the evening on his first scramble, a 9-yarder he punctuated with a nifty slide.

The two Luck-led drives had mixed results.

Adam Vinatieri capped the first with a 24-yard field goal, but the second ended inside the Ravens’ 20-yard line when tight end Dwayne Allen lost a fumble after a short gain with a reception from Luck.

“We did some good things,’’ Luck said. “Disappointed we didn’t score a touchdown. We need to do that. We shot ourselves in the foot down there, but it was fun. It was a lot of fun.’’

And about that early slide?

“I’ve slid in the past,’’ Lucks said. “I don’t want to make a bigger deal than it is.

“It’s part of the game, part of being the quarterback.’’

Coach Chuck Pagano disagreed.

“The greatest thing is he took off and got his ass on the ground,’’ he said. “That was a plus.’’

More than the slide, Pagano was impressed with Luck’s overall presence. Remember, he hadn’t been in a competitive situation for more than nine months.

“With him, nothing really surprises any of us,’’ he said. “I wasn’t shocked because of the time that he has put in. Since he came back, through the OTAs and from the start of training camp, he’s just been outstanding.

“He’s been a different guy. He’s different from a leadership standpoint, different just from how he carries himself day-in and day-out throughout the building. He’s very demanding. He’s making everyone around him better.’’