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INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts spent the off-season investing in Andrew Luck’s protection plan.

After one week, they like the results.

Sure, Andrew Luck was sacked twice and hit seven more times in Sunday’s season-opening loss, but a makeshift offensive line with three new starters held up perhaps better than expected.

“I’m not sure I’ve ever seen an offensive line pass protect as well as they did,” offensive co-ordinator Nick Sirianni said Tuesday.

“It wasn’t just that they weren’t getting near Andrew. You know they got there every once in a while, just as they will with any quarterback. It wasn’t so much they weren’t getting near him, it was the kind of effort where the offensive line was selling out for Andrew.”

Sirianni was most impressed by the teamwork from the starting five and their willingness to do whatever it took to keep Luck upright after going more than 20 months between regular-season starts.

Plus, the Colts (0-1) weren’t even close to full strength — and they may not be again this weekend at Washington.

Left tackle Anthony Castonzo, Luck’s longtime blindside protector, injured his hamstring between the end of mini-camp and the start of training camp.

He returned briefly after being placed on the physically unable to perform list, then re-injured the hamstring before the preseason opener. Castonzo hasn’t played since and was limited in practice all of last week.

Denzelle Good looked like the probable starter at right tackle heading into the preseason, but hurt his knee and wrist in Week 3 of the preseason and sat out all of last week.

Indy danced around those absences by plugging their most versatile lineman, Joe Haeg, into Castonzo’s spot on the left side, and putting veteran J’Marcus Webb, who didn’t even play in the NFL last season, in Good’s spot on the right side.

Indy’s plight may have taken another hit when Webb injured his hamstring on Clayton Fejedelem’s clinching 83-yard fumble return to seal Cincinnati’s victory. Webb was placed on injured reserve on Tuesday.

“Anthony wasn’t in much of training camp, either, so we were kind of ready for it,” Haeg said. “We have been constantly shuffling guys around, getting guys reps at every position, so it really wasn’t as big a deal, I think, as if Anthony had been healthy all of OTAs, all of training camp and then showed up Week 1 and not been able to play.”

But the Colts’ options are pretty limited.

Haeg could swing back to the right side, where he is more familiar, if Castonzo starts. The only other tackle on the active roster is Le’Raven Clark, a third-round pick in 2016 who was inactive against the Bengals.

What else could the Colts do?

Second-round pick Braden Smith lost out on the starting job at right tackle during the preseason and the only other lineman on the active roster is veteran guard Mark Glowinski, who started 19 games in three seasons with Seattle. He, however, is listed as a guard.

“You have to find a groove so that you’re ready whenever your name is called,” Smith said.

The Colts certainly didn’t play a perfect game against Cincinnati.

Sirianni acknowledged there were some missed assignments and they need to run the ball consistently. But he figures if the Colts continue to protect Luck the way they did for 55 passing attempts Sunday, Indy’s starting quarterback should be in good hands — regardless of the starters.

“I was really just amazed at how little he got hit, dropping back that many times.” Sirianni said. “We got some movement on a really good defensive line on some run plays that we were really encouraged by.”

Notes: The Colts have reached injury settlements with linebackers Tyrell Adams and Jeremiah George, receivers K.J. Brent and Krishawn Hogan and safety T.J. Green. All five become free agents after initially going on the Colts’ injured reserve list when they cleared waivers. … Indy also has signed cornerback Lenzy Pipkins to the 53-man roster from the practice squad and signed guard Sean Harlow and cornerback Tarvarus McFadden to the practice squad and released offensive lineman Jamil Douglas.

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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Royce Freeman is set to become the first rookie running back to start a season opener for the Denver Broncos since Hall of Famer Terrell Davis in 1995.

“It’s an honour to be mentioned with a man of that calibre, a player with that type of legacy around here,” Freeman said.

Coach Vance Joseph chose the third-round pick from Oregon as his starter Monday ahead of veteran Devontae Booker and fellow rookie Phillip Lindsay, who coincidentally was handed Davis’ old No. 30 jersey.

“That being said, it’s going to be by packages, also,” Joseph said. “So, Royce is our leading runner, but on third down you’ll probably see Booker and obviously having a package for Phillips is going to be important.”

Freeman reacted with humility after his position coach, Curtis Modkins, informed him he’d start Sunday against Seattle.

“It’s an honour to be named a starter for this football team,” Freeman said. “It makes me want to work harder.”

Freeman had plenty of miles on his football odometer coming out of Oregon, where he was a four-year starter and rushed 947 times for 5,621 yards and 60 touchdowns in addition to catching 79 passes for 815 yards and four TDs.

General manager John Elway said that proved he’s durable, and Freeman also proved his worth as a pass protector for Case Keenum during training camp and the preseason.

Joseph lauded Freeman’s maturity, saying he can “carry the load from a physical standpoint and a mental standpoint. He was really good in ‘pass-pro.’ That’s your biggest worry about having a young halfback playing with a veteran quarterback, but he’s shown the IQ and the maturity to be a great ‘pass-pro’ guy.”

Joseph said Freeman’s build and resume — he packs 238 pounds on his 6-foot frame and started 45 games in college — show he can handle heavy workloads, too.

“That’s what he showed at Oregon. He was their main guy. He had a lot of work. He stayed healthy through the work. And that’s also an issue for most young backs, can they carry the load for 16 weeks?” Joseph said. “And I think with his background, his body type, he should be able to carry the load for 16 weeks.”

Freeman was second-string behind Booker in the preseason, but he led the team with three touchdown runs, one in each of Denver’s first three preseason games before sitting out the exhibition finale.

OUT OF SIGHT: Joseph shut down a question about how hard it was to cut a former first-round quarterback when the Broncos jettisoned Paxton Lynch on Sunday.

“Paxton’s gone,” Joseph said. “So, that story’s gone with him.

“We have a big game on Sunday. We have three quarterbacks in our house that we feel good about,” Joseph added. “But Paxton, that’s gone. That story should be gone with him — I wish him well.”

The Broncos on Monday welcomed new No. 3 QB Kevin Hogan, the former Stanford signal caller who replaced Lynch on the roster Sunday and began learning from Keenum and backup Chad Kelly.

“Kevin fits what our quarterbacks look like,” Joseph said. “He’s an athletic guy. He has a good arm. He’s very, very smart. He’s fast with the ball. So, he fits the profile of what Chad and Case look like physically. So, he was a good fit for us.”

CAPTAINSHIPS: The Broncos elected captains on Monday, including three first-time honorees: linebacker Todd Davis, special teams ace Andy Janovich, and centre Matt Paradis.

Other captains are star LB Von Miller, Keenum and kicker Brandon McManus.

“All six guys are deserving the honour and I’m excited about those guys leading our team,” Joseph said.

Notes: Third CB Tramaine Brock (personal reasons) was the only player absent from practice, but Joseph said he’ll return Wednesday. … Joseph said he hopes to have S Su’a Cravens back by midseason. Cravens needs arthroscopic surgery on his left knee and went on IR. … The Broncos brought back WR Carlos Henderson to their practice squad. The 2017 third-round draft pick skipped training camp for personal reasons. “I want to see Carlos grow up,” Joseph said. “I want to see Carlos do NFL things and have great meetings, have great practice, have great days in the weight room. Just do those things for us first.”