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Double Down: Two big things to watch on offense for the Colts vs Ravens

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NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Seattle Seahawks Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The Indianapolis Colts showed a lot of positive things against the Seattle Seahawks, but now it’s time for round two of the preseason and the unit needs to take that next step forward.

Here’s what Colt fans need to be observing when they take the field against the Baltimore Ravens on Monday night.

Eight or more yards

Andrew Luck has mastered Frank Reich’s offense when it comes to short and immediate throws. That’s an important aspect for the offense, because Luck has had a tendency to hold on to the ball and force the issue at times.

While it’s nice to see Luck get rid of the ball instead of taking hits, we need to see Luck and the receivers make plays down the field — instead of just checking it down or throwing a five-yard out route.

The biggest thing was just seeing Luck able to throw a football in a live setting once again.

“I had fun. I really, really enjoyed my time. I think the team had fun,” Luck said after the first preseason game against the Seahawks. “We’re not blowing it out of proportion. We understand that it was a preseason game. It was a chance to get better, and I think we improved.

“Personally, I could’ve been a little crisper on some stuff with some footwork and throws, but that’ll come. That’s part of the work,” Luck added.

Luck is still working on getting comfortable in the pocket with opposing defenses rushing after him on each drop back. When Luck starts to feel more comfortable, and get back into more playing shape, Reich will unleash the beast down the sideline we are used to seeing.

But with comfortability still a work in progress, Luck is still developing a rapport with receivers not named T.Y. Hilton or Jack Doyle, it is important this continues to happen, especially with Eric Ebron, Ryan Grant and Chester Rogers — who seem to be the next viable options with the ACL injury to Deon Cain.

Coin flip, or flips, for Right Tackle

The protection of Andrew Luck was the No. 1 goal in the offseason for Chris Ballard, drafting Quenton Nelson and Braden Smith, while signing Austin Howard and Matt Slauson.

The left tackle, left and right guard, and center position is set in stone with Nelson, Slauson, Anthony Castonzo, and Ryan Kelly. That means one spot is still up in the air.

The Colts opened with Joe Haeg at left tackle and J’Marcus Webb at right tackle against Seahawks, but Haeg struggled mightily and gave up a sack. That prompted Reich to move Webb to the left side while experimenting with Howard and Smith throughout camp.

There’s no clear leader as of yet, and hopefully that will change against the Ravens. Reich likes the experience on Howard’s end, and Smith brings a lot of raw potential to the table. Monday’s game is a chance for one of those tackles to take a step forward, because protecting Luck is the ultimate goal.

“We really like what Austin brings to the table but we’ve said right from the very start it’s open competition,” Reich said. “The best guy will start. So, we have been rotating those guys through there. And each guy has had a lot of good moments. We feel good about the depth we have right there. we’re just waiting to see who’s going to emerge.”

At this point in the preseason, it seems anyone could start at right tackle.