Colts Mailbag

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Colts Mailbag: Carson Wentz, Sam Ehlinger, Jonathan Taylor And More Fan Questions

The Colts will look for their first win of 2021 on Sunday against Jacoby Brissett and the Miami Dolphins. Check out what questions fans had ahead of the game in this week's Colts Mailbag. 

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Colts.com readers can submit their questions to have a chance of them being answered in our Mailbag series.

Missed out on the party this week? Not a problem — you can submit your question(s) for next time by clicking here, or by taking part in the Colts.com Forums and the Colts' Reddit. You can also send your questions to @JJStankevitz on Twitter.

Let's get after this week's questions:

Robert A. Smith, Santa Maria, Texas: Why risk injury by playing Wentz? Sit him for a week and let the backups play against Miami. Isn't that better than risking him being injured for the whole year?

JJ Stankevitz: The main point here is Carson Wentz was, and is, both mentally and physically ready to play. Once Wentz went through pre-game warmups in Tennessee and was cleared by the Colts' doctors, he communicated to coach Frank Reich his desire and readiness to play.

"I rely on the docs and I rely on the player," Reich explained. "The docs are going to give us the information, is this player subjecting himself to injury that is detrimental to the player, his career and those kinds of things? Or could he be subjecting himself to putting himself in a worse position for this season? The docs answer that question. That's totally above my pay grade.

"Then you need to talk to the player. What I've experienced over the years is players know. They know their bodies and know what they can do. So in this instance, Carson's docs give Carson the clearance, Carson says, 'I want to play.' Now it's our job as a staff to try to protect him the best we can. That's what we tried to do.

"We had the game plan set up and we called it in a way where we tried to protect him as best as we could. Here's the good news, the good news is we have a quarterback who yes, he's mobile and can make plays, but he's a really smart guy. He can play the drop-back game. So that's something we've talked about. We just needed to commit to. That's a bit of a different mentality for him because he is so aggressive and wanting to move and get out of the pocket. But it's a good opportunity for him to work on that as we go."

Steve Cloud, Brownsville, Texas: What is the latest on Sam Ehlinger's injury? When is he expected to return? I started following the Colts when Sam got drafted. Thank You.

JJ Stankevitz: Ehlinger returned to practice on Wednesday, the first day he was eligible to do so after being placed on injured reserve Sept. 2 (players on injured reserve are required to be out a minimum of three games). Ehlinger's return to practice on Wednesday triggered a three-week window during which he can be activated off injured reserve.

Ehlinger suffered a knee injury Aug. 27 in the Colts' preseason finale against the Detroit Lions.

Troy Lawson, Indianapolis, Ind.: What do you think the plan with the backup QB will be? Eason has been good, but would you say good enough to hold off Ehlinger? I understand that Ehlinger has been injured, but his preseason play was inspiring. He took chances but seemed to learn from them, and he presented some moxie. Not to get down on Eason or Hundley. I am curious of your thoughts. Love the mailbag!

JJ Stankevitz: So we'll see what shakes out when Ehlinger is activated off injured reserve, which again can be any time in the next three weeks. For now, though, Reich confirmed Brett Hundley will be Carson Wentz's backup this weekend in Miami.

"We look at it and said Jacob's done a good job and – we talked to each of them one-on-one and what I said to Jacob was, 'Jacob, you're on the right track, you're doing the right thing. This is not about you. This is about Brett's experience,'" Reich said. "He's started nine games, he's led two fourth-quarter game-winning drives. He's experienced. He's a very poised young man. We're going on the road, playing in a difficult environment and just felt like if Carson wouldn't play, that would the best option for us."

Brandon Andrews, Aliquippa, Pa.: Will the team be looking to establish the run to protect their injured QB?

JJ Stankevitz: So there were a few questions this week about Jonathan Taylor getting 10 carries in Week 3 against the Titans. Reich addressed that question earlier this week:

"You lose a game, I say this all the time – you can be better, I can be better. I need to be better," Reich said. "But as far as runs go, we've seen in the time that we've been here, even just here – I forget my years before this – but we've had this conversation before where it's an odd flow of the game. Where because we were not in sync offensively, we had eight plays in the first quarter, we had 23 plays in the first half. I mean we weren't in sync.

"Then they were possessing the ball. So now you've got seven or eight runs called in the first half. Then we come out in the third quarter and we have a 17-play drive. I don't know how many runs we called in that drive, but I think it was quite a few. But you're playing catchup as far as calling runs – unless you get the lead in a game, you're never going to get enough runs called.

"Ultimately the whole key to getting the number of runs called you want is to be in the fourth quarter with the lead. That's where you really build it.

"We had a bunch run-pass checks as well. They showed heavy boxes, and we checked pass. We tried to scheme and call things that put the players in the best position. So if they are going to play a real heavy box against the run – and there is sometimes we're willing to take that chance and run against it, but we're also going to try and take what they give us. So if they're going to play a heavy box, at times we're going to check out and throw the ball."

Four of Taylor's 10 runs came with eight or more defenders in the box, per NFL Next Gen Stats. It's not just one single factor here – this issues are always much more complex than simply saying "run the ball more."

As for this week, it's easy to say the Colts should try to run the ball more, but the counter is there are things Miami may try to do to take the run away. The Titans did with a lot of different motions while mixing up their fronts. If the Dolphins do the same, though, the Colts expect to be ready.

"I definitely expect other teams to do that," Taylor said. "But the good thing is we already experienced it so now we have answers for it."

Michael Rountree, Norfolk, Va.: What is the status of T. Y. Hilton? When will he return?

JJ Stankevitz: So this was the first week T.Y. Hilton was eligible to return to practice and/or come off injured reserve. Reich was asked about him on Monday:

"T.Y. is making great progress," Reich said. "I've talked to him, seen him out there doing his rehab and getting going, and I'm encouraged with what I've seen. I'm encouraged with what I've seen. I don't think we're quite there yet with him, but really encouraged with the progress he's making."

Richard Inkerton, Fulton County, Ky.: As a lifelong fan of the Horseshoe from across the way I hope we can right the ship. But wanted to ask, how long do you estimate it would take you to beat Joey Chestnut's record of 76 hot dogs consumed? I think I could do it in 3 days but would love your thoughts.

JJ Stankevitz: The average hot dog is 150 calories, with a bun running around 140 calories. I'm from Chicago, so I'm only going to put mustard on my hot dog. Let's call it an even 300 calories per hot dog.

So for 76 hot dogs, that 22,800 calories. In 10 minutes. Ten minutes! Just typing that out is making me think Joey Chestnut – shoutout to Westfield – is the greatest athlete of all time.

The guy consumed more calories in 10 minutes than I consume in one week (22,800 calories over seven days is an average of 3,257 calories per day, more than the 2,000-3,000 calories per day consumed by an average adult male).

Anyways, if you could do it in three days, that would be unbelievably impressive. I think I could maybe do it in six days if I starved myself for a few days before. I also don't want to find out the answer to this. But thanks for the question, Richard.

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