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COLTS MAILBAG

Posted Mar 13, 2013

Each week readers of Colts.com can submit questions about the team and have the chance for their questions to be answered. Here are this week’s answers to selected questions that were sent. To submit a question for Craig you can visit the COLTS MAILBAG or tweet your question with the hashtag #COLTSMAILBAG.

INDIANAPOLIS – Readers of Colts.com may submit questions during the week and have a chance to have them answered during the middle of each week.  Submit your question here.

Here are responses to some of the questions received recently.  We thank you for your interest in the Colts.

 

ERIC D. (from Kansas) When Wes Welker tests the market, will the Colts be a team that would be interested in him? If so, would they have the money to sign him?

A:  Wes Welker is a tremendous player who has caused Colts fans to grit their teeth more than once.  Would we have the money to invest in him if we chose?  I think, yes.  There is no doubt Welker is a top-tier UFA.  What the issue is with him is being a slot-type receiver.  Welker has not had the chance to thrive consistently beyond that capacity, though he certainly has flourished in it.  A team would have to employ such a role in its offense if it were to pursue him.  His dollar figure would mandate that.  It is a role Austin Collie and Brandon Stokley excelled in with the Colts under prior offenses.  Whether or not that is part of this year’s offense is not known.  If it is, we could find out sooner rather than later.  A player with his production could merit thought if the offense had that role.  You love the synergy he has had with Tom Brady, and it may continue there for all we know.  I’m sure it is in his mind to try to maintain that level of synergy with a quarterback in 2013, wherever that might be.

 

TIM E. (from Fairfax, VA) Two questions for you. First, could you explain the rules regarding a team negotiating with a tagged franchise player?  I'd like to see the Colts lock up McAfee to a long-term deal.  Second, I just read the article on Ben Ijalana and I was wondering whether the Colts planned to use him inside at guard and whether he might play at a slightly lighter weight (317 at his pro day versus 337 currently) to reduce some of the stress on his knee?
A:  Any club designating a franchise player will have until 4:00 p.m. (ET) on July 15 to sign the player to a multi-year contract or extension.  After that date, the player may sign only a one-year contract with his prior club for that season, and that contract may not be extended until after the club’s last regular season game of that league year.  Don’t know the specific plans yet for Ben.  Getting healthy right now is job one for him.  Having him in OTAs is not as likely as training camp.  Whenever that time comes, he will play in a weight range reached in concert with the coaching staff.  Ben’s a great guy.  I’m sure he appreciates your interest.

 

ROBERT M. (from Indianapolis) What do you think of Denard Robinson and do you think the Colts can use him?

A:  Denard was a very exciting player at Michigan, one who can pose more than one threat to a defense.  He has some talents that eventually could cause problems for opponents.  His 4.43 at the combine was impressive.  Coaches would love to see him be a difference-maker in the return game.  If he could fit into an offense as an extra receiver, it would get him on the field consistently.  Should there be something here for him, he would go from one of the great college helmets to the best one in the NFL.  The burden for him right now is to prove his skills.  I think he can.  Can we use him?  I know we have a lot of young talent on offense.  We drafted predominantly that way last year.  I would never say never, and that even was before I saw a prominent AFC East head coach use Twitter yesterday.

 

RYAN L. (from Indiana) Where is Montee Ball and Marcus Lattimore on the Colts draft board.  I've followed them through their careers in college they would fit great here.

A:  It would be at great professional risk for me to go find where we have them on the board.  I can see why you followed them, though.  They seem like quality people in addition to being good players.  Both were productive, and Lattimore is one you really hope can overcome the injury.  Ball did nothing but thrive when asked to do so.  You choose well, and I choose not to barge into the draft room to check out the board.  I’m sure you understand.

 

ADAM Z. (from Warsaw, IN) Do you expect the Colts to have any interest in Jake Long?  I know he has been down slightly the past few years, but it seems as though this regime will focus heavily on running the ball and stopping the run and a former #1 pick and two-time captain from Michigan might be a nice addition.

A:  Jake Long has great pedigree.  I’m sure he wants to write a better script than he has had the last couple of seasons when he missed playing time.  If Miami has invested the type of money being reported for other free agents yesterday, it would seem to eliminate Long from continuing his career there.  What that says about him given the position he plays is unknown, if it says anything at all.  I think someone will step up, but I’m not sure you will see him with us.  We added tackle Gosder Cherilus and guard Donald Thomas yesterday.  That will bolster our line.  The new offense under Pep Hamilton could energize the rushing game, too, though we were productive last year when we went to it. 

 

TYRON J. (from Maryland) Everyone knows this year the Colts are going to focus on defensive side.  How do Colts feel about players that have off-the-field issues such as Tyrann Mathieu?  This guy was once considered top Heisman candidate and now could slip all the way down to the fourth or fifth round.  What’s the possibility of the Colts getting him?

A:  Tyrann has been the focal point of a lot of mailbag users.  He got a lot of national TV time with LSU before taking the fall last year.  All of it was self-induced.  I’ve said before that I don’t know that our “second-chance” nature would include what he went through, but we do have one according to Ryan Grigson.  It had to be a tough fall from a lofty place for Mathieu, and you want to see a young, talented player get turned around (he is not alone in this regard in this draft).  Where he goes will be an interesting storyline over the three-day draft.  His size could be an issue.  Mathieu might find a home in coverage packages, but he will need to be an effective returnman like he was in Baton Rouge.

 

DAVARES W. (from Kokomo, IN) Is there any chance we make a trade to bring Revis Island to Indianapolis?  Our secondary is by far one of the worst in the NFL, and he would be a huge upgrade for us or any team.  With that being said, if Ed Reed hits the market, do you think (Ryan) Grigson will make a play for #20?

A:  Both players have been responsible for many letters to the mailbag.  Chuck Pagano is a defensive ace.  He has an eye for that side of the ball and a big-time ability to attract and coach people in the secondary.  Both players would command top dollars.  Both would add a presence in the secondary, but how much might their additions limit the pursuit of additional players?  They both have game and character, so those would not be concerns.  Age might be, however.  Reed and Reggie are long-time buddies.  Coach Pagano first recruited Reed from a high school just west of New Orleans while he coached with The U.  I can’t say I would be surprised, and I don’t know our thinking.  We did agree to contract terms with Greg Toler yesterday.  I’m sure the five players we added yesterday will be joined by others.

 

TYRONE S. (from Hammond, IN) I am one of the many Colts fans who live in Northwest Indiana but feel somewhat cut off from our favorite team because of our proximity to Chicago.  Even though I have been a season ticket holder since 2003, I don't feel as connected to the team as I would if I lived in another part of the state.  What things are the team looking to do engage its strong and growing fan base stuck in “Bears” country?

A:  Tyrone, NFL rules prevent us from marketing in another team’s “marketing area,” and Hammond is in the Bears’ area.  We are restricted by league policy, but we love our fans in that area.  We know the NFL appetite in Hammond and the surrounding places is pretty big, and you’re doing your part.  We did, too, by going 11-5.  Thanks for being on-board with us since 2003.  You’ve seen some great moments and players, and we want to keep it going for you.  I hope this sheds some light on your question.

 

RON M. (from Muncie, IN) What about Desmond Trufant?  If he is still available, what's the chance we take him because we need help bad in the secondary?

A:  Desmond comes from a very athletic family and has done well for himself.  I think his stock went up from his combine work.  He looks to have what it takes to be just fine in this league.  Not saying this specifically from a Colts perspective, but he could be a player to watch.

 

LEVI F. (from Grand Ridge, FL) With Dwight Freeney leaving, do you think Ryan Grigson will use the first-round pick on a DE like Bjoern Werner from Florida State?  With the talent T.Y. Hilton showed this year, do you think he has a good, long future with Indy?

A:  We have some young talent here that will get a crack, including Erik Walden who we agreed to terms with yesterday.  It could be there is additional help coming in that area in the draft, but Ryan Grigson likes some of the faces here already.  Werner did not grow up with the game in Germany, but he took to it and did very well in Tallahassee.  As for Hilton, there is no reason he can’t improve even more and play well for years.  Ryan says he wants T.Y. a little bigger (ie:  get in the weight room).  T.Y. was pretty thorough last year using resources like Reggie Wayne and the coaches to refine his game.  He’s a good worker.  I think you’ll like how he matures.

 

ZAK A. (from Kendallville, IN) With us being 40 some million under the cap and us needing a big-time corner, how realistic is it that we make a move for Darrelle Revis? If his knee is OK and can still take away half the field, it would bolster our defensive backfield with Vontae Davis, Tom Zbikowski and Antoine Bethea, not to mention give more time for Robert Mathis to get to the QB.

A:  See above.  You join many others in asking about Revis.  Greg Toler should lend a pretty good hand this year. 

 

CHESTER B. (from Walnut Creek, CA) With the major cap space we have are we legitimate players for Jake Long and Darrelle Revis?

A:  See above, too.  My guess is we go in a different direction than both of them, but that is just my guess.  I’ve been wrong before.  I remember congratulating the Tampa Bay PR Director in 2003 on a nice win as we shared an elevator to the field with four minutes to go in the game.  I thought his 35-14 lead was insurmountable.  Bazinga.

 

TOM J. (from Nokomis, FL) What's the main concern in this year’s upcoming draft, offensive linemen or defensive back and/or safeties?  I make it out to Indy for one game a year and have been a lifelong Colts fan.

A:  People most often mention both lines and the secondary like you have done when they voice their priorities for our roster.  I won’t know the areas we have targeted, but we did a good sweep yesterday with our efforts in free agency.  In any pre-draft press briefing we have, I doubt specifics will be divulged there either.  Personnel people keep lips sealed, at least the good ones do.  It’s great we get hit with questions, though.  People’s passions are important.  As for visiting once a year, it’s a long way to come.  Thanks for doing so, and I hope you have a winning record for the games you’ve attended.

 

JUAN D. (from Fort Wayne, IN) Will the Colts ever consider a “rival” jersey like the Texans have where they wear red?  Obviously, it wouldn't be red but maybe black pants, black jerseys, blue numbers?  It would look great against Seattle at home and another jersey to retail.  I feel like it would be great from a marketing standpoint!  Also, if you have a chance to grab DE Margus Hunt out of the draft, that is by far the smartest move.  That kid looks like a beast!  Go Colts.

A:  While that practice is done and there’s nothing wrong with it (I kind of like the “Battle Red” premise in Houston, it fits historically), we have no such plans for an alternate uniform.  We have worn a “throwback” version honoring a past uniform on a couple of occasions, but there are no plans to introduce anything beyond that.  Our look is clean and traditional, but we appreciate your thoughts.  Hunt did have a great career at SMU.  Another reader likened him to J.J. Watt.  I don’t know if that is a stretch or not, but he looks ready for this level.

 

ISAK H. (from Mexico City, Mexico) How possible is that the Colts draft Barrett Jones and Levine Toilolo?

A:  I guess anything is possible with one or the other, but we have two young tight ends in Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen.  Going with another tight end might be a bit much, though Toilolo should know the offense we are going to run.  Jones is impressive with his intelligence and versatility.  He reminds me a little of Jeff Saturday, who Jones liked growing up.  It’s not that they wouldn’t work here, I just don’t know that it will happen.  They both were trained in quality programs and should transition well to the league.

 

BARRY S. (from Cincinnati, OH) Like a lot of Colts fans, I was glad to see Jeff Saturday formally retire as a Colt.  This leads me to wonder about the following: what are the chances of his number being retired?  The Colts don't appear to have retired a number in a long time (though Mr. Irsay did say a year ago that no one would ever wear 18 again).  It seems to me that 63 is one of the numbers the team should formally retire.  I feel the same way about 88 (in honor of both John Mackey and Marvin Harrison).  Can you offer any insight on this?

A:  Very good thought and question.  At this time, though, there are no plans to retire the number in honor of Jeff, or any other number either.  It is true the franchise has not retired a number in quite a few years.  It still is a team decision, though at one point a few years ago the NFL gently dissuaded teams from doing so.  John Mackey is a Hall-of-Famer, and his number was not retired then.  Marvin Harrison came along, as you indicated, too, and even further defined the history of that jersey number.  The ceremony we had for Jeff was the first of its kind, and he will join a very small number of former players who have gone on to work for the team.  It’s very likely that will be it.  We all think the world of Jeff and regard him highly as a player and person, but there are no plans to retire the number.  As for when the next jersey number is retired, it’s anyone’s guess.  I don’t think we’ll see a number 18 again, nor has number 88 been used after Marvin left.  We’ve seen number 32 issued, and number 63 was issued last year, too. 

 

CHAD M. (from Colorado) Do the Colts have a legitimate chance this coming year to be a Super Bowl contender?

A:  In a sport where the past rarely is an indicator of the future, who knows?   If we stay healthy and play smartly, it will increase the odds, but there are so many variables.  We have turned a new leaf with the coaching staff, roster and general manager.  It is a new era here, and one that hit a number of high notes quickly.  So much progress was made last year, and our leaders say there is a new standard.  I like their message, and I think the players do, too.  It still has to be done on the field.  Long answer short, intangibles are in place.   There is a great nucleus that is grounded and talented, but it has to be earned over 16 three-hour increments in the regular season.    

 

DAVE H. (from Sebring, FL) The teams that went far in the playoffs were teams with defenses that challenged the offense’s receivers or anyone that came out of the backfield, at the line and every inch.  Will the Colts be going with this style of play?

A:  The need to have a defensive presence greater than last year is real.  We should have a bit of maturation with many of the players on hand.  Replacing Dwight Freeney will be imperative.  Stopping the run consistently is near the top of the list, as is the ability to consistently create turnovers.  That was a rough area for the team last year.  Stating what you did is correct, and we need to go about it.  I think we have some guys in place who can help do it.

 

AVIANCE J. (from Sellersburg, IN) Just wondering do you feel Steven Jackson could help the Colts be better, if he comes at a reasonable price?

A:  If a team needed a back for a one- or two-year period, Jackson could be the guy.  He has had some solid years for a team that struggled.  He has been productive, but he is pushing 30 at a position where skills can decline quickly.  Looking at Jackson long-term may not be right for a number of teams.  We’ve seen in this league teams that looked for the hired gun at that position to make a quick run.  In that scenario, Jackson might be your guy.  If you were looking down the road, you may shop elsewhere.  Jackson always has been a load for a defense.  There’s no reason, at least on the surface, why he couldn’t be that guy still.  As far as character, there seem to be no concerns whatsoever.

 

DILLIAN H. (from Terre Haute, IN) What are the chances that the Colts sign Andy Levitre, Paul Kruger and one of the better corners on the market?  Then using their 24th pick to draft a strong safety such as Kenny Vaccaro or Jonathan Cyprien?

A:  It looks like both Levitre and Kruger are headed elsewhere.  I do not know if they ever factored significantly in our thinking.  We did add Greg Toler yesterday in free agency.  He is a good prospect who was out of the fans’ limelight in free agency talk.  Toler has relatively low mileage on him, and Ryan Grigson likes his athleticism and the tempo at which he plays.  Pairing Toler with Vontae Davis may be in the cards.  As far as Vaccaro and Cyprien, there has been some interesting chatter on them.  We keep our chatter below a whisper here, but you’ll see them go somewhere on the first or second day of the draft.  Thanks for the interest.  We know there is a lot of Colts backing in Terre Haute.  You guys helped us have 11 good training camps there.  Any chance you could send some Maurizio’s our way?  At the risk of sounding like Clark Judge, a good buddy, I thought I would commend one of the great establishments in your area.

 

DEREK M. (from undisclosed) Felt good about last year and liked every pick in the draft and Redding was OK.  I am very disappointed with this fiasco free agency signings.

A:  Derek, you sound like a true blue fan, so hang in there.  So often in free agency, people look only at the big names and discount the value that can be found beyond them.  While we are not done, I think time will prove the additions we made yesterday to be solid ones.  A few different areas of the roster were addressed, and there will be good competition in OTAs and camp.  Coach Pagano wants it that way, and players respond to it.  I know we don’t have to worry about you jumping ship.  We’ll need you in September, and I trust you will feel better then.

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