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.
DAVID H. (from Sebring, FL) Now that Ryan Grigson has brought in a bunch of players for the team, why not just give Andrew Luck a bunch of weapons and see what the kid can do with them this season? That way, we'll have fresh guys on the field to attack the other team's defense and give them different looks, plus it would shock teams to cover different talented players. This could give the Colts a big edge.**
Also, I see the Colts said they needed seven undrafted rookies. Why? I have looked up many teams out there and they are bringing in up to 30 guys. Why don't we do the same? Houston has 31 undrafted rookies. I would figure the Colts would have done the same to create competition on the practice field.
A: That's one of the reasons roster sizes are bumped down from 53 players on Sundays. You can only go to battle with a certain number of players, and flooding one side of the ball can't be done with the current game day size of 45 guys. Otherwise, teams could skew the roster composition for competitive reasons. As for your question on signings, the roster maximum in training camp is 90 players. Prior to the draft, the club had signed 18 free agents (some who were with the team last year and were signed again early this year to "futures" contracts), re-signed eight veterans from last year, signed eight veteran unrestricted free agents and acquired a player in a trade. Then we drafted seven players and signed nine more undrafted college free agents. I know it's hard sometimes on the outside to keep track of our numbers, and numbers thrown around publicly in media reports for other teams can cause confusion for Colts fans when they measure us against the competition. Rest assured, we will be at the roster maximum. No one is more intent on creating competition than our personnel and coaching staffs. You have no worries on that.
SETH H. (from Paducah, KY) I have been a Colts fan since Bill Brooks and Tom Tupa. I have always wondered, I know that the GM makes the decision but if the coach likes a player that the GM doesn't, will they draft him based solely on the coach? Go Colts.
A: I don't remember in my years here a case where there was a division of opinion like you stated, though I'm sure there have been discussions in the weeks prior to a number of drafts that had their differences. If such cases occurred, those discussions would be held early enough that more background work could be done by staff to reach a consensus. Most successful teams have a synergy with the coaching and personnel staffs to land the right kind of players to fuel the system. We've had that type of process here for a number of years, and it only helps increase the odds of a successful program. To win consistently for years, it's wise to have that working relationship.
JEFF P. (from Bristol, CT) Are there any other free agents the Colts may still be looking at? Is it fair to say with the free agent pickups on the offensive line and Darrius Heyward-Bey in the mix, this will make our offense better and a little easier for our line to protect (Andrew) Luck?**
A: I think we're done in the veteran free agency process, and we had nine post-draft college free agents join us. The additions of Gosder Cherilus and Donald Thomas and the drafting of Hugh Thornton and Khaled Holmes should help get the line we're looking for, and Darrius will help, too. You have to like the age range on our line, plus with the tight ends and receivers. All those components will help with the protection. We know the number of hits Andrew took last year, and we want to decrease that dramatically. Our actions this off-season have shown that intent.
SCOTT T. (from Indianapolis) We (Colts) have been missing a play-maker, a game-changer. Our playmaker on defense was Bob Sanders, but (he) was injury-prone. Kelvin Hayden left and had a good season with the Bears. Our offense has play-makers, but not homerun hitters. It would be nice if our offense can get chunks of yards and a lot of first downs, like Percy Harvin did. Also get turnovers on defense instead of just making stops. Will we look for game-changers in the draft?
A: One game-changer you referenced could be LaRon Landry. He's proven it in the league before. As for impact players in the draft, I think you will see good contributions, but I don't know that any will have the same instant impact that Andrew Luck had last year. Maybe one or two will. I hope so, but I will take them playing like our draft class did last year. I think you will see the offense give a great accounting of itself in getting yards, first downs and points. It may look a bit different than last year, but I believe we're good enough to get it done. Forcing turnovers and getting off the field are two big things defensively. Another year in the system and adding a few new pieces might have done the trick.
PATRICK K. (from Danbury, NC) What do you think of the Colts' draft class?**
A: In addressing almost every position group on the roster, I think we helped ourselves across the board. Getting components for the 3-4 was big, and I think the lines will help us play the way we want to play. It's always a risk to get too high too fast. It will take 2-3 years for us really to know but if we hit this year like we appear to have last year, fans should be in for some fun seasons.
COLE M. (from Bloomington, IN) First off, I really enjoy this space. You offer a service that isn't available in other places. I know you face a lot of tough criticism and questions that you are not able to answer for a variety of reasons. I know speculation is not your job, and I appreciate your amiable approach when so many want answers that you are not in a position to offer or that might not even be available. So thank you for doing what is a tough job. I want to ask a different question. What are YOU looking forward to MOST in the upcoming season (a game, player, offensive/defensive unit, etc.)?
A: Cole, thank you for a very nice letter. We feel the mailbag is an important service to help interact with our fans. I don't mind questions that fans have, even ones that are tough to address. It's not that difficult a position to be in. What I look for this year is a healthy Chuck Pagano. What he went through last year and how the players, coaches, organization and our fans responded was one of the most meaningful things I've ever seen. I want our fans to keep engaged with the team and be proud of our efforts. It should be a fun team to root for. I want the players to buy into the program and listen to coaches like they did last year. It all starts there, and it makes it fun for all of us. Winning another AFC South title is a big goal. We've enjoyed those in the past, and there's nothing like doing that. Three home division games in December could be a lot of fun. In the vein of Tony Dungy, I want the team to "play to its talent level and don't make mistakes." Seeing growth in players and integrity off the field is important. Winning and doing it the right way makes the best impression. Having all of that would make our 30th year in Indianapolis a blast. I won't deny it, I look forward to the Denver game. We'll be seeing the return of a special former Colt, just as we have with a number of others, too. The best part of the job is the people you spend/spent time with along the way. As in all past occasions of that nature, though, we want to come away the winners.
DEREK M. (from Crawfordsville, IN) Just a comment to say I am very pleased with the draft except the running back pick. I thought that was a reach, but we got some very nasty players. The (John) Boyett and Justice (Cunningham) picks are the two I really liked. I think we are going to have a wrecking crew out there.
A: I don't think there's any question we came out of the draft a better team. We drafted at about six position groups, and we're high on the abilities of all our guys. As for Kerwynn Williams, he was a solid all-purpose player who excelled tremendously on kickoff returns. That is a big area for us, and I think you'll see him get a pretty good crack there and in the offense. Everything is about play-making, and he did it at Utah State. Boyett and Cunningham came in for praise for their physical styles. We'll all keep an eye out for it, and hopefully Boyett can be ready soon.
RAINER D. (from Germany) Why are the Colts make not a better marketing (plan) in Germany with the draft from Björn Werner? Germany was the only state in Europa with three teams for NFL Europa, (a) long time ago! Björn (is) an example for other young (children) in our land and that's a lot of fans for the Indianapolis Colts. Germany loves soccer, but American football we love, too.
A: We appreciate your interest in the team, and we are thrilled to have Bjoern as our top draft pick. It was fascinating to hear him speak of playing in youth leagues in Germany, telling how he watched the older youth (ages 15-19) play on a more physical level and how he compared it to soccer, then to hear how he sought coming to America to play football. Bjoern's message of work and dedication is one that can hit home with many people, while inspiring others. Bjoern already said he will take time to share his message with younger kids. He also said the appetite for the Colts in Germany already is huge. He'll make a difference here, and his time is just starting. We hope this causes a number of people in your area to follow us. The way NFL Europe helped lay the groundwork for football was terrific. People throughout Europe are educated to our game. Maybe this is an impetus to us playing in Europe sometime. Fans have asked about that before, and this might be something that moves it along. Jacksonville is scheduled to play there a few times. While it is doubtful the Jaguars would want a division game taken abroad, you never know. There is no prohibition to having an AFC South game held there per their agreement, and the NFL is marketing savvy. Thank you for taking the time to write.
JORDAN B. (from Cherry Hill, NJ) Let me just start off with I'm a HUGE Colts fan. I just wanted to know who the starting running back will be in 2013? In my opinion, I think Vick Ballard deserves it more than anyone, and the new O-line should help him a lot, too.**
A: I know why you are so high on Vick. He had a tremendous year in 2012 and is in line for contributions this year. I believe Donald Brown and Delone Carter can be productive and to see how the attack this year could feature a bit more from a fullback will be fun to see develop. With Pep Hamilton here, it seems there will be a more dedicated effort to run the ball. We did it fine last year, but this year seems it will be much more of an emphasis. That will be a good thing for our guys, and Vick should prosper.
DARYL I. (from Port Perry Ontario, Canada) As the depth chart kind of fills up, I see that (Erik) Walden was given a deal worth four million a year. Now bringing in (Bjoern) Werner, could he be the starter and what would the Colts do with the contract of Erik Walden?
A: Right now, the depth chart is not even written in pencil. It's way too early for that. As for what the club paid Walden, the contract is what it is. There is no beef with it. We think Erik will be a good fit for us, and how the lineup shakes out will be determined much later this year. Erik has good upside and Bjoern will be starting new in this league. There is room for both.
DAVID B. (from Fishers, IN) My wife and I are beginning to try to plan what days we want to request off from work so we can go to training camp together. When will the location and schedule be confirmed? If it takes too long we are going to miss our date planning window of opportunity. We have been to camp at least twice every every since camp returned to Anderson.A: David, thank you for your patience and loyalty to the team. I think we should be able to have the news in the very near future, and I hope you can bear with us until all the details are resolved. As always, there are final matters to nail down, but we do not anticipate it being much longer. There are a number of fan like you and your wife, and we have a deep appreciation for you. We will get the news out as quickly as possible and hope to see you in training camp again this year.
WAYLON H. (from undisclosed) Great draft and excellent undrafted free agent signings. (Emmett) Cleary has friends in the house and Dan Moore proves RG1 is everywhere. (Hope he's as good as that other Moore we once had.) I was wondering if you could give us the cut-down dates. Thanks, GO COLTS!
A: We're busy building the team, and you're worried about the reduction. I'm just kidding you since you are a regular contributor. We will go to training camp with 90 players (the maximum). Rosters are cut to 75 on August 27 and to 53 on August 31. Practice squads can be established a short period after the final cuts. Hope that helps and thanks for the support. Try to identify where you're righting from. You never tip your hand on that.
EDITOR'S NOTE: In a follow-up to a previous mailbag participant, the Colts will have a free open mini-camp practice at Lucas Oil Stadium on Wednesday, June 12. Doors open at 2:00 p.m. There will be on-field activities for fans, along with give-a-ways, half-price concessions and more. The practice begins at 5:30 p.m. There is free parking in the Tire Barn South Lot. Additional details will be provided at www.colts.com in the coming weeks.