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. Here are responses to some of the questions received recently. We thank you for your interest in the Colts.
BRENDAN C. (from Bloomington, IN) How much cap room do the Colts have going into the 2013-2014 season? Are there any big defensive tackles or offensive guards hitting free agency the Colts could snag?
A: Without getting into specifics of something that is not defined at the moment, suffice to say the club will not be restricted as tightly as it has been this season. There were numbers thrown out this past year in the neighborhood of $35 million "dead money" the team was carrying. Without verifying that, the club was hindered a bit and should have greater latitude to operate in 2013. As for the part about tackles or guards, it is best to hold off on specific discussions until a later time. Colts fans can feel very good about how aggressive and adept Ryan Grigson has been in personnel matters. He always is on the prowl to fortify the roster, and his moves help account for what has been accomplished this season. Thanks for the interest in the team, and for the weekly request we get to talk about next year's prospects.
RONALD H. (from Joplin, MO) If Andrew Luck is to play Peyton Manning in the playoffs this season will Manning welcome Luck as a friend or a foe?
A: I never have sensed anything but regard between Peyton and Andrew, as well as the same for their fathers, Archie and Oliver. There has been a connection between the families for a long time. Additionally, Peyton talked for years about always being a "fan" of quarterbacks, and he went to great lengths to have friendships with many that he came across. I'm sure that is the case here. That said, the three hours of competition are another matter. All friendships are put aside during that time, as well they should be. It would be quite a storyline, no doubt. Such a matchup would be a true ratings bonanza, and NFL fans would love it.
RICKY A. (from Mammoth Lakes, CA) I have a very great observation this week when you play the Texans. You want the middle linebacker to keep an eye on the line to see if they're pass blocking to see if it is a pass or run blocking for a run then the outside linebackers look at the tight end. Then double cover Walter and Johnson.
A: Thanks for the suggestion. I did not pass it along, however, since our coaches were all over it with their plans. Houston won and won the division. Congratulations to them. We have reset our goals and will try to get in the playoffs this Sunday with a win at Kansas City. We'll see the Texans, or some version of them, in the finale here the following Sunday. We competed hard. Johnson made his plays, while the defense forced a number of field goals. We'll see how the next time goes. They are formidable. Our guys know execution will need to improve, and it can, the next time.
CHARLES B. (from Pendleton, IN) Can you tell me why (Jeff) Linkenbach is on the Colts' offensive line?
A: Charles, your email hit during the game, and I deleted part of your question because of the tone you took. I know it was a tough time for our line and our team, and, suffice to say, you were engaged in watching, too. We only had eight healthy linemen, and Jeff has been a solid and versatile performer this year, as well we last year when he played every snap. We'll have better days but without the contributions of Jeff this year, we likely would not have been in the position last Sunday of having the chance to extend the divisional race. It didn't happen, so we'll move on, and we will do so with Jeff. I know you'll be watching Sunday. You sound like an intense fan, and we like our fans to have passion.
TYLER M. (from Mahomet, IL) Do you think the Colts have a chance to make it into the playoffs against the Cincinnati Bengals?
A: First things first, we need to get in. Should we, we'll see who is on the dance card with us. Cincinnati is hanging tough. If they win Sunday at Pittsburgh, they're in. They also can take the North by closing with a win when they host Baltimore in the finale. It's a great race there. As for us, we just want in. Whoever we play then is fine with us. As for facing Cincinnati should both teams get there, it would make for a lively time along I-74.
CHRIS S. (from Vancouver, BC) I'm a big Colts fan up here in Canada. I thought that with the Jets loss, the Colts would have secured a playoff berth - in what scenario do they lose out to Cincinnati and Pittsburgh?
A: The Colts can clinch a playoff berth this Sunday with a win or a tie at Kansas City. The club also can clinch with a loss or tie by Pittsburgh. From what we can see, the strength of victory tiebreaker involving Pittsburgh and Cincinnati could be the issue. At the moment, the Colts trail Pittsburgh in that scenario, but are ahead of Cincinnati. Let's make things simple – win Sunday.
CHRIS T. (from undisclosed location) What have you thought about the rookie wide receivers, in particular T.Y. Hilton? What about Donnie Avery?
A: I complimented Ryan Grigson earlier for his personnel acumen, and the trade he arranged to land Hilton on draft day is paying off, big-time. Hilton has great over-the-top speed and elusiveness. His hands have been good, and he is becoming a near every-down threat. Six more receptions gets him among the Colts' all-time rookie leaders. His yardage is fifth all-time by a Colts rookie, and two more TD receptions tie him with Bill Brooks and Marvin Harrison. He's in great company, and his four 100-yard games already smashed the team rookie record. By any measure, Hilton has been very good. Donnie also is a great threat. He's tough and stretches the defense. He has set personal single-season bests in receptions and yards. It's been a solid comeback from a tough injury. Those are two of the best acquisitions this year. We have a speedy group, and it's always wise to stock an offense when a young QB is on board.
PATRICK M. (from Mount Vernon, MO) Why is Mewelde Moore still on the team after the way he played last Sunday?
A: Please see above for the Jeff Linkenbach response, and we appreciate your thoughts. Mewelde has had a long, successful career. He didn't build it by not contributing in great ways. Was Sunday his best day? No, and he acknowledged it. I bet no one felt worse than he did. He has contributed in other good ways earlier this year, and he will again. It was a tough loss for us, and it was disappointing. I know it was disappointing for you and other Colts fans. Mewelde will be part of the mix on Sunday in Kansas City. Let's see if we can put Houston behind us for now and win a playoff berth.
NICHOLAS F. (from Kokomo, IN) Are we looking to make some major improvement on our offensive line?
A: As I said last week, offensive linemen are some of the harshest self-critics on the team. They also are among the grittiest guys, too. We were playing without two starters and were up against a good front. We'll learn from the game and move on. A return to health is the aim. We'll keep battling.