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What we learned from Sunday's preseason games

The Detroit Lions rolled over the injury-ravaged Colts, 24-10 in each team's respective preseason opener Sunday in Indianapolis.

In a largely defenseless, high-scoring affair, the Seattle Seahawks throttled the Los Angeles Chargers, 48-17, on Sunday night. The game was Los Angeles' first in StubHub Arena, the 27,000-seat stadium in Carson, Calif., that will serve as the club's temporary home (21,054 showed up for opening night).

Here's what else we learned from Sunday's preseason action:

  1. The most newsworthy moment of Sunday's preseason game came when Colts general manager Chris Ballard entered the broadcast booth. After telling NFL Network's Tom Pelissero earlier this week that quarterback Andrew Luck would likely be off the physically unable to perform list by the beginning of the regular season, he raved about Luck's budding arm strength to the team's play-by-play crew. Ballard said Sunday that Luck's "strength levels" were likely better now than they were "at any point last season."

While this could be the type of vague, fill-in-the-blank statement Ballard uses to get himself away from another Luck interview unscathed, it also could be an indication as to how close Luck actually is. As Pelissero noted, Luck has been ramping up his throwing program of late. Coming back stronger than ever would truly be something. Owner Jim Irsay doubled down on those comments in a conversation with reporters after the game, though he could not guarantee Luck would be ready for the season opener, just somewhere around that time. When asked by the Indianapolis Star about the team's strategy regarding a more suitable backup, Irsay brought up a steep price tag.

  1. Even if the Colts get Luck back, one of their most significant problems is still glaring. The banged-up offensive line is struggling, perhaps more so now than ever before. Ballard did not seem worried, saying that he was confident he would find eight trustworthy bodies by the season opener -- a task that will be made much easier when center Ryan Kelly (foot) returns in a few weeks. Luck's understudy, Scott Tolzien, attempted just five passes and, in at least one, had one of his starting offensive linemen shoved back in his face almost instantaneously. This is a team still patching in backups, so a complete evaluation is not fair right now. That doesn't mean it's not worth keeping an eye on.
  1. Every preseason seems to give way to a hidden skill position star. On Sunday, that was Detroit receiver Kenny Golladay, a third-round pick out of Northern Illinois. Two of Golladay's three catches were for touchdowns, including a beautiful adjustment grab in the end zone between first-round pick Malik Hooker and second-round pick Quincy Wilson. According to Pro Football Focus' snap counts, Golladay did get reps with a majority of the first string Sunday, though Matthew Stafford was out after just three passes and an interception.
  1. Ballard professed a desire to improve in the rush lanes, as evidenced by the acquisition of players like Jabaal Sheard and Margus Hunt. He singled out 2017 third-round pick Tarell Basham for logging a pressure against Detroit on Sunday. While Chuck Pagano's state secrets were not on display, there is a crystal clear difference in physicality. Hooker delivered one punishing hit and was frequently around the ball. Sheard was also in the backfield frequently during his brief stint in the game.
  1. The Lions left former Rams first-round pick and prospective left tackle Greg Robinson on the field for quite a while Sunday in hopes that he would get on track. In the reps I saw, Robinson was largely the same player we saw in St. Louis and Los Angeles. What does this mean? Moments of undeniable power combined with moments of clumsiness. Robinson was solid during Stafford's brief time under center and was tested early with a deep drop back. This is going to be a coach-heavy, technical turnaround for Robinson so don't be surprised to see him on the field quite a bit over the next few weeks.
  1. Lions head coach Jim Caldwell said defensive end Kerry Hyder "has a significant Achilles injury." It does not look good for the former undrafted free agent, who blossomed with the Lions a year ago, logging eight sacks, a pass breakup and a fumble recovery in a supporting role. Something was clearly wrong from the get-go with Hyder, who fell to the turf during a second-series rush. He was carted off the field shortly after.
  1. It was a fun and breezy first look at the Anthony Lynn/Ken Whisenhunt hybrid offense. While Seattle was playing a shell of their typical defense, the multiple tight end bunch formations utilized out of the gate foreshadow a scheme that could be incredible to watch. There were some gaping mismatches created on Philip Rivers' opening drive, as well as Kellen Clemens' linebacker-on-speed wideout 74-yard touchdown pass to Travis Benjamin. Rivers went 5-of-6 for 56 yards and a touchdown to -- who else? -- Antonio Gates. It is far too early to wonder if this offense will take a Falcons pre- and post-Kyle Shanahan type leap after one possession against milquetoast coverage but this is not the first time we've felt the hype brewing for Los Angeles' offense. A nice variation of receiving backs, including Branden Oliver who took a one-man screen 14 yards, could finally unlock some of their potential.

7b. Of course, nothing matters in L.A. if their offensive line doesn't perform. I watched the team's best lineman, Matt Slauson, get beat off the ball on the first snap by Michael Bennett but then recover quite nicely during the rest of the series. Rivers was getting rid of the ball so quickly that it may be able to negate some of the obvious deficiencies up front.

  1. Boy does Shaquill Griffin look the part. Seattle started their third-round pick Sunday and while he did get beat early on a deep route to Tyrell Williams (Earl Thomas swooped in and blasted the ball out of Williams' arms), he displayed some closing speed. Griffin could very well be John Schneider's latest mid-round gem at the cornerback position. I profiled the UCF product back during the predraft process and even then, he was determined to change peoples' minds. Griffin had no official visits lined up at the combine but after posting freakish numbers in Indianapolis, his dance card was full nearly until the draft. He was coveted not only by Schneider but by Bill Belichick in New England.
  1. Kicker news! Blair Walsh was perfect on field goal attempts (long of 42) and 5/5 on extra points. Seattle is hoping to rehabilitate the maligned Vikings kicker, who was released by Minnesota in November of last season. Walsh had yet to fully recover from the stunning wide left miss against Seattle back in 2016.
  1. Seattle went pretty much as expected at running back: Thomas Rawls to Eddie Lacy to C. J. Prosise, though Prosise is always going to be in a RB/WR category of his own. Rawls carried the ball twice for five yards while Lacy took four carries for 10 yards. One troubling moment: Lacy was stonewalled at the goal line, though he had no help from his offensive line. Both Ryan Carrethers and Caraun Reid were in the backfield before Lacy could get much momentum going. From afar, he seems to have the same powerful, smooth gait and quick feet. Seattle would love him to also regain that ability to become a second hammer next to Rawls.
  1. I kept a close eye on prospective Seahawks tackle Luke Joeckel who, according to Pro Football Focus, logged 19 snaps. What is amazing to me is how technically perfect he can look on certain plays and then appear flummoxed on the next. In a way, it's a microcosm of the highs and lows of the position, but I'll take the positive route on this one -- with that baseline technique alongside the great Seahawks O-line coach Tom Cable, I'll bet on Joeckel this season. He had some nice moments, especially on a stretch run out in front of Eddie Lacy. A sign of things to come?
  1. CHARGERS BACKUP QUARTERBACK BATTLE: Kellen Clemens (4/10, 100 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT). Cardale Jones (2/9, 50 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT). While the broadcast crew was high on Jones and the idea of a younger, developmental backup, Jones looked a solid step or two behind Clemens. Nearly all of his 50 passing yards came on a 38-yard 50/50 ball he chucked up to tight end Matt Weiser. The argument could very well end up being that Jones can win you games athletically that Clemens could not, but Jones has certainly not separated himself from the field.
  1. Injury roundup: Joey Bosa exited after just a handful of plays nursing his elbow but appeared fine on the sidelines. NFL Network's Alex Flanagan talked in depth about a dislocated finger that Bosa is still playing with from last season - something to watch in future appearances. On a more serious note, linebacker Denzel Perryman (ankle) ended up in a walking boot after injuring his ankle. Max Meyer with more here. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said wide receiver Paul Richardson has an AC sprain and will be out a bit, the team announced. Defensive back Jordan Simone has a significant knee injury, could be ACL, Carroll added.
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