Andrew Luck was worried he would never play football again. After a shoulder surgery sidelined him for all of 2017 and he wasn't throwing regulation footballs until this summer, the naysayers claiming Luck would never be the same seemed to have a case. Tonight, Luck takes a giant step forward in returning to his former self as he is slated to play the first quarter for the Colts preseason opener in Seattle.
By all accounts, Luck has looked good, if a bit rusty, at camp thus far. He has uncorked long throws and showed great chemistry with both veteran TY Hilton and newcomers Ryan Grant and Deon Cain. Obviously, the Colts hopes for the season rest almost entirely on Luck's shoulders (literally) and fans will hope to see him look like the player that led Indianapolis to an AFC title game in tonight's game.
For Ryan Tannehill, the stakes are a little different. While Luck is entrenched as the Colts franchise passer, even if he needs to knock a little rust off, Tannehill quite possibly faces a make or break season. If the Dolphins struggle, it will likely mark the end of Adam Gase's tenure as head coach, and could quite possibly lead to new front office regime. If this all plays out, Miami will likely have another top 10 pick and could take someone like Will Grier or Drew Lock in the 2019 draft. While Tannehill's contract is likely too big to get away from after this year, he could find himself in a position similar to Alex Smith in 2017, where it was clear the end was coming soon. And Smith has been better than Tannehill to date. At home against the laughable Bucs defense is a good place for Tannehill to get his feet wet and prove he is a starter a team can win with.
Realistically, both passers will likely show a little rust tonight as they ease back into action. However, their preseasons are worth monitoring, particularly as the regular season nears. For Luck, he is working with a new head coach and besides T.Y. Hilton, does not have familiar weapons around him. Tannehill will be playing without Jarvis Landry for the first time since Landry came into the league, but he does have breakout candidate Mike Gesicki to lean on as a security blanket at tight end.
A lot has changed in the 585 days since Luck last suited up for the Colts. The same can be said for Tannehill as he returns from a 606-day layoff. But at the end of the day, the two 2012 top-10 picks are probably just excited to be back out there, hopeful to lead their teams back to the playoffs.