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Colts Mailbag - January 1, 2014

Posted Jan 1, 2014

This week, mailbag readers ask about the final drive yielded to Jacksonville, the premise of playing healthy players when a playoff berth was earned, about Kansas City being a good matchup, if the team would play a game in England, the status of Da’Rick Rogers after the season, along with re-signing Adam Vinatieri, a possible position switch for DHB, the team’s health heading into Saturday and Andrew Luck and the Pro Bowl.



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.

 

CONNER M. (from Washington) What do you think about re-signing and then switching Darrius Heyward-Bey to cornerback or safety?  From what I’ve seen of him as a gunner on special teams, I think he could make the conversion very well.  Plus, we have several DBs with expiring contracts this year.

A:  DHB has been very selfless about going on special teams and contributing there, and he has done very well.  I think you underestimate the skill set at those defensive positions (planting, footwork, burst, hip movement, etc.), however, and I’m not sure a conversion would be a smooth process.  There is not a big history of it, and running routes is much, much different than covering them.  Knowing where you’re going is a world apart from guessing where a receiver is headed and then reacting.  DHB has shown solid physical play on special teams.  That may have influenced your question, and it sounds like you are fond of him.  I can see why you and others might say this, but I don’t see it.  It’s probably not any thought we’re having.

 

JOHN A. (from Denver, CO) Is Reggie Wayne still one of the best receivers in the game?

A:  His sheer numbers from a longevity and production standpoint put him in a class where it doesn’t take long to call the roll.  For my money, absolutely.  His team leadership abilities also aren’t found very much at the receiver position in this league, and that is something noted by his teammates.  To come back from his injury will be something to watch, and I’d never underestimate anything Reggie tries.  I can’t tell if you’re a fan of his by your letter.  If you aren’t, I hope you will be.

 

CHRIS M. (from Sioux Falls, SD) I had an absolute blast at the KC game.  With playoffs approaching, will Coach Pagano bench or rest the starters toward the end of the game?  I know they can still seal up the second or third seed but in my eyes, I’d rather see the Chiefs come to our house.  Don’t you think it would be safe to rest our starters for half the game to make sure everyone is healthy so we can give the Chiefs another loss?

A:  Our approach was to play every game on the schedule, including last week.  Chuck said during the Kansas City week anyone healthy would play.  No one has a better feel for the team than him, and I know Colts fans like his battling nature, and that of the team.  Chuck lived up to his words (like always), and we are the fourth seed and host Kansas City.  I also would be careful to characterize one team as being easier to beat another.  That’s dicey business and not how we feel at all.  We’ll need to be at our best to beat anyone.  Glad you enjoyed the trip.  Hope you enjoy the playoffs.

 

TYLER P.  (from Des Moines, IA) What’s Da’Rick Rogers’ situation once the season is over?  He’s a great receiver.  I think if he is paired with T.Y. and Reggie next year we will have one of the best WR corps, not to mention Griff Whalen.  Rogers’ story is inspiring.  It’s awesome to see him beat the odds.

A:  It’s my understanding he’s signed through at least next year.  Even if he weren’t, he likely would be an exclusive rights free agent, and I think the same with Griff.  I don’t believe you have any concerns.  Da’Rick’s certainly done enough in my opinion to factor into the thinking here (click here for his 69-yard TD at Cincinnati).  We gave him a chance, and he’s taken advantage of it.  That’s fun to see, and I bet we see him with the same opportunity in 2014.

 

JON S. (from Kentucky) Shouldn’t the Colts save some of their players for the playoffs?  Also, I think Colts should stay at the fourth seed to play Chiefs again.  I think they match up better with them than any of the other potential sixth seed teams.

A:  Jon, you wrote before the game, obviously, and we are the fourth seed now.  Our mindset was to play every player who was healthy enough, and that was the right thing to do.  Like Chris’ letter above, be careful what you ask for in rooting to get one particular opponent.  Remember when we beat Pittsburgh handily in 2005 and six weeks later they beat us in the playoffs.  There are no future guarantees based off past wins.  Every game is tough, every opponent worthy.  Your mindset does not reflect ours.  In fact, Adam Vinatieri said Monday people would be foolish to expect the same result of two weeks ago based on what happened then.  It’s all about right now, and the playoff intensity will ramp up.  We will have our hands full with the Chiefs.

 

MICHELLE M. (from Fort Wayne, IN) I was very pleased to see all areas come together in the win over KC.  Da’Rick Rogers and Griff Whalen are players I hope the Colts keep for the long-term.  Any possible talk with them?  Also, send well wishes to Reggie Wayne.  I sure miss him!

A:  Michelle, you can see my response to Tyler’s letter above.  I think both Da’Rick and Griff are in our considerations going forward.  Thanks for the well wishes for Reggie.  He’s doing very well in the rehab, and he’s a huge asset for our players.  Reggie’s a walking encyclopedia who happens to be a great guy.  Even without playing, he’s providing great leadership.

 

RHONDA Y. (from Fort Wayne, IN) I just read about Adam Vinatieri’s contract ending this year.  I've also read how he really wants to retire with the Colts.  I sure hope Jim Irsay gives him another contract.  What are the chances?  Why does Jim Irsay always get rid of the older players when they want to retire as Colts?  This would be a mistake.  What are your thoughts?

A:  I would hope something is worked out with Adam for what he means on and off the field.  Everything about him is professional.  While a number of players do depart, it is not a part of a grand plan by anyone here, and I wanted you to know that.  We don’t “get rid” of players as you stated.  Sometimes, it is the way it works.  It is a great sport that can be a difficult business.  Jim is fond and appreciative of his players, and I think they know that.  I wanted to put that in words.  Thank you for your letter. 

 

IAN H. (from Reedsburg, WI) I’m a huge fan of the Colts and during some of the games I noticed that there was a younger guy in a sweatshirt talking to Andrew and Matt on the sideline. I was wondering if this is Chandler Harnish and if so, does he work in close relation with them during the week?

A:  There are a number of people near Andrew during games, and the person you saw could have been Chandler.  Chandler definitely is a contributor to Andrew and Matt during the week.  There are so many things that go on in film and practice work that it takes guys like Chandler.  We have a good one in him – a worker and positive influence, a guy who grew up in Indiana loving the team.  If you keep your eyes peeled, you’ll probably see Chandler on TV.

 

TOM B. (from The Villages, FL) Looking at the practice photos, I know the color difference between the white and blue jerseys and the obvious meaning of the red jerseys.  What is the meaning of the gold jersey?

A:  Sometimes we dress non-starting players in different color jerseys in practice as part of special teams or ‘look’ team drills.  It is an identification means for how we practice, plus QBs wear red as you mentioned.  If you wonder why the colors change during in-season practices (ie: why the offensive players are in blue one week and in white at other times), we always dress the offense in the jersey color we will wear in the upcoming game.  We normally wear blue at home and white on the road.  I hope that explains it clearly for you.

 

PIERS M. (from England) With American football really growing in England, would the Colts’ fans be prepared to give up a game at Lucas Oil Stadium in order to play in London?  As a Colt fanatic, I would love the opportunity to see Andrew Luck and the boys in action.  What do you think?  Is it worth giving up a home game in order to further the exposure of the Indianapolis team over here in England?  I await your comments with great interest.

A:  We would look forward to playing in England, but we could not take a home game away from our loyal hometown fans.  If we were to have a road game scheduled there, it would add to our list of playing abroad.  So far, we’ve played in Mexico City (2000) and Tokyo (2005).  We know there is a great football appetite in your area.

 

CHIP E. (from Cumberland, MD) What a great year as expected by those of us who have been fans recently.   We know they are special and more than capable no matter the blatant snub from most mainstream media outlets.  They receive very little coverage and very little credit.  It is fine by me though.  I like coming out of nowhere to shock and awe.  I am wondering how our injuries look heading into the playoffs – Vontae Davis, Greg Toler, Ricky Jean Francois and Cory Redding.  Can I expect to see them playing Saturday?  Thanks for taking the time to answer my question and Go Colts!

A:  A few of our players are day-to-day at this point, and Vontae is one of them.  We’ll keep an eye on him but on balance, we’re in pretty good shape.  A number of players could return to practice this week, and we’ll provide the pertinent updates as we move closer to Saturday.  It doesn’t sound like you stress if media chatter doesn’t focus on us.  That’s good.  Just keep up with our website and you’ll be fine.  We’ll just go about our business and show up on game day.  That’s the best way to reward our fans.

 

ED K. (from Wisconsin) I thought the Jacksonville game was a good game to win.  I am concerned about the last three minutes.  All the Colts had to do was get first downs and the game was over.  The play calls were not as good as they were throughout the game.  What do you think?  Also, the defense played great but to let the Jaguars score makes me wonder if that may happen Saturday if the Colts are up by only three points. I thought the defense would have played better to stop them from scoring.

A:  We didn’t let up late, and the yards and score were not real pleasing.  Still, I think you could look at that more critically if it had happened earlier in the game or season.  We’ve made some solid strides on both sides of the ball in the last three weeks, and that has generated a great deal of momentum.  I think Chuck Pagano, his staff and the veteran players have done a terrific job of getting us where we want to be.  I don’t think you should have concerns because of that last drive.  That said, KC will be a big challenge.  We’ll prepare for it. 

 

BRAEDEN H. (from Paris, KY) My Aunt and I got tickets for this Saturday’s game.  I’m extremely proud of the Colts players and coaches – fantastic job this year.  Do you think the Colts can make a strong run in the post-season?  If so, who do you predict will be the biggest impact performer.

A:  Glad you’re making the trip up.  Hope you enjoy it.  Our guys have done a good job, you’re right, and we’re excited about the first home playoff game since 2010.  I think we are capable of making a run on one condition – that we follow the same preparation and mindset that we have used since Chuck’s been here.  We stay even-keeled, and there are a number of veterans who can help a roster with 20 players who never have seen the playoffs before.  The intensity changes and the stakes are higher.  I don’t want to pick out who I think would be key players, but playoff games are decided in part on good line play and in kicking.  If we’re good in both areas, that will help big-time.  If a game does come down to a kick, we have a good one who has done it at this level.  Have a safe trip up.  I know you’re a regular mailbag contributor.  Bring your vocal chords.  We want it loud.

 

PAUL M. (from Pittston, PA) Glad to see the Colts finally got away from the power running game that they stuck to way too long.  They just don’t have the horses up front yet.  My question is, was it Pep or Pagano that stubbornly stuck to it that long?  It cost Luck his second Pro Bowl.  Luck did more with less than any other QB in the league.  He should have been a Pro Bowler.

A:  Chuck Pagano is a firm believer in running the ball and stopping the run.  He said yesterday that mindset will not change, though by numbers some people could argue we are not there yet.  Pep Hamilton has the same philosophy about using the running game to help open up things for the passing game.  As you may have noticed, we did lose a great deal of personnel on offense this year, yet we still managed to hang in there under adversity that I think a lot of teams couldn’t have done.  We replicated last year’s record.  That wasn’t a goal, so to speak, heading into the year, but coming away from a season at 11-5 was an accomplishment.  I don’t know of many people who sneeze at 11 wins in this league.  Your offensive view is different than Chuck's and Pep's and that’s fine, but hopefully you like the team’s results.  As for Andrew, he had a terrific year.  So did a number of other quarterbacks.  Hopefully he will have other seasons where the adversities won’t be so great.  There will be other times for the Pro Bowl, but I get the real sense that he is much more concerned with championships.  When he starts Saturday, he will become one of nine QBs in the Super Bowl era who have opened careers by starting playoff games in consecutive seasons (click here for the list).  That’s a pretty good accomplishment, and I think he’s more driven by being relevant in playoff circles than anything else.


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