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.
WAYLON H. (from undisclosed) Well the draft is nearly here, so I wonder how many people are in the war room with input on our picks and who is the lucky guy that gets to take the pick up to the podium? You are a real lifeline for us fans, thank you for keeping us in touch (without the smoke and mirrors). GO COLTS!!!**
A: We usually send two members of our football operations staff to the draft to handle the card process. While it looks glamorous, it's not. One person literally is tethered to the phone for the duration. He communicates on that end while wearing a headset to stay connected to our draft room. The brief camera shots do no justice to the grind they have. As for the draft room, there will be a number of people from the personnel and coaching staff there. From all previous draft rooms I've seen, the process is calm and professional. There are bursts of excitement (please don't read 'disagreements'), but not as much as some might expect. It is the culmination of hours and dollars too great to calculate, and you want to remain calm and attentive. The volume of information in there truly is amazing. The scouts and coaches have expended so much time and effort for those three days that it really a momentous time for them. It is a well-oiled process.
RON S. (from Maryland) I am a great fan of Darrius Heyward-Bey, a Maryland guy like myself. Do you believe he will have a major role with this Colts new offense?
A: I think he will benefit from a stable quarterback position and will have every chance to do so. Otherwise, we would not have brought him in here. I don't mean that as a criticism of Oakland either. For a number of years we had stability issues at that position and how/if it affected some of our players we'll never know. I think it's a solid signing and one that gives us more ability to create concerns for defenses. Some of it will be up to him, obviously. If Darrius buys into the program (I have no reason to think he wouldn't), he'll have every chance to contribute.
SUNIL A. (from Houston, TX) With the signing of Darrius Heyward-Bey, the Colts arguably have the fastest group of wide receivers in NFL, but who do you think will become the successor to Reggie Wayne? Is he among the WR's currently on the roster, or they should look for one in this year's draft?
A: We've gotten a few questions about Reggie's "successor." I know he'll hit another birthday during the season, but I've never seen a rocker at his locker. It seems trendy to use that phrase, but I'm not writing about successors until it happens. That said, I'm sure Reggie's glad to have younger guys around to mentor. Reggie always has been a real pro and a true Colt. Darrius should be a great addition, and we have some others who did not hit the field last year who have a great chance to develop.
DEREK M. (from Crawfordsville, IN) Can you ask Ryan for me to get rid of those sixth-round and two seven-round picks and if so, add next year's also in there and move back into second round this year, preferably a high two. We have plenty of talent, now we need quality. I truly think we are only a few high-quality guys away.
A: It takes two to tango, but Ryan has found willing teams before if he has a conviction. If we have someone on the board at 24 that matches our needs, we'll do it. If not, we will remain fluid with all options. Don't worry about him being shy when he has something he is pursuing. It's really something to see how many units across the board seem much firmer than a year ago. Glad you're high on what Ryan has done.
HENRY H. (from Neptune, NJ) I love what we are doing with the team and the direction we are taking! Vick Ballard had an outstanding season, but do you think we should aim for a more solid running back to support Luck and the passing game?**
A: Vick is solid, and he looks a year more mature from what we saw from him last week when the off-season program started. I don't think you have any worries with him. Donald Brown fits the bill, too, and Delone Carter was really up when I saw him. I've said before I like where we are at the position. We are about a week away from getting players on the field. How the running game takes shape is a big point of interest.
DAVID H. (from Sebring, FL) I have noticed that Gosder Cherilus is wearing number 78. I would have thought he would have wanted his same number, 77, that he has been wearing for years. What's up with that, or is he looking for a change? I see the Colts face Seattle in week five. Will we be ready to shut down their option running attack and be prepared for any of their trick plays?
A: Number 77 is retired here for Jim Parker. He was one of the greatest players ever to play, and a nice gentleman who passed away in 2005. Ask anyone, he was an all-timer. Gosder did not have a choice. As for Seattle, they are not a regular opponent here in Indianapolis, but it should be a great game. The quarterback matchup is a natural storyline, and we'll have to be sharp. We want to tighten the bolts on our run defense, and free agency has allowed us to do that. The draft may as well. There is some sizzle on the home schedule, and week five is one of the best. I think we'll be ready for what they pose.
KYLE S. (from St. Louis, MO) I want to start off by saying I'm a huge Colts fan, but I will also criticize the parts of our team that are slacking. Which leads to my question. Why do you act blind to this? Someone will ask a question about our offensive line and you will defend them. Frankly, it's annoying. All you say is, "Well, the offensive line is getting better" instead of being honest and saying, "Yeah, we need to bring in new players." You never have suggestions for positions to upgrade, you just defend what we have. Obviously, we are going to get new players at certain positions. Be realistic.
A: I never will denigrate the opinion of any fan and if one like you questions mine, so be it. We can disagree tactfully, and I don't mind that. I think the two units that need cohesion above all others are the offensive line and secondary. Two areas that likely draw the highest levels of criticism are quarterbacks and offensive linemen. Were we where we wanted to be in line play last year? No, but I think we're closer than some think. You and I may disagree on that. Others may disagree, too. Obviously, I'm closer to the situation here than you are, but I don't think that causes me to sugarcoat things or have blindspots. I'll be the first to say I'll go to bat for guys we have, but I would not do it dishonestly. I saw the hits Andrew took last year. I also know protection goes beyond the line. I saw us run for a decent average when we were committed to the run, and I bet we do it well this year. I saw us end the season with a marathon near 10-minute drive to kill the clock against Houston. They couldn't get the ball back, and many of us never had seen a possession like that. Because of injuries, only two linemen started every game. We had eight linemen start during the year and in nine different outings, we had to make in-game adjustments because of injuries. All that affected cohesion. With his actions in free agency, Ryan Grigson showed he was looking for something different this year on the line. He and Coach Pagano want competition on every unit, and it's their jobs to do so. Last year's unit had its moments both ways and any low points invite criticism and call for changes. Every year is a completely new proposition, and we'll have at least two new veteran pieces with Gosder Cherilus and Donald Thomas. The draft starting tomorrow could bring more change. Certainly if Ryan thinks that is best, he will act. As for me offering suggestions, I've said before I'm not an "X-and-O" guy and I won't snow anyone on that. Reporters and talk show hosts have more latitude and possible motive than I do in creating issues through criticism or by talking about players on other teams who they think might be better fits for us. Being a club employee, I can't engage in speculation involving players on other teams for tampering reasons. I hope you can see my point and understand why I don't get into criticisms and "Fantasy-type" chatter. I guess if I truly agreed with criticism like yours about certain players, I would remain silent and let time and off-season moves take care of it. All I try to do is give fans like you, fans we truly appreciate and respect, a forum to ask questions and know that we see them. I try to provide legitimate responses to help keep you engaged with the team. Our fans are loyal and knowledgeable, and we want to do all we can to keep communications open. Sorry for the filibuster. I try not to do that. You didn't touch a nerve. I just wanted to offer a full answer. Hope you write again.
ISAK H. (from Mexico City, Mexico) First, I think Mr. Craig Kelley deserves an applause from all fans for writing us back. Now, I see many people are concerned that Ryan Grigson brought DB and DL through free agency but many of us think the team needs a new C, which many fans are looking forward to the idea of Barrett Jones. I have also heard that Brian Schwenke had a visit. Will Jones have a visit, too, or is he at least being taken into consideration for the draft?
A: Isak, your question did not come in conjunction with Kyle's above, but I placed it here. I don't need thanks, but I appreciate it. It serves again to show how fans can check in and see there's a chance for an honest response from the team. We have two centers with experience at the moment, Samson Satele and A.Q. Shipley. They both have one year here, and this could be a time for them to further gel with the unit and the offense. I happen to like both guys, so I hope they are part of the solution for this year. If we are looking for others, the draft will have to be the option. Barrett Jones has drawn attention from our readers almost weekly. He is interesting based on his Alabama career and how he handled himself at the combine. We don't discuss our visits publicly. Should Ryan Grigson do so, I'll mention all names. It's best, though, that that information remains bottled up. We certainly have had a number of draft questions and most will be answered by our actions in the next couple of days.
SKIP J. (from Indianapolis) Toooooo late to bring Dwight Freeney back?
A: Dooooooon't see it happening. It's not part of the plan at this point.
MICHAEL F. (from Porter Ranch, CA) More a comment than a question, but I'm interested in your response. I think this draft is tailor-made for Grigson and his staff. Not that many first-round stars, but exceptionally deep with talent through five rounds, maybe even six. It's a draft for a GM who loves to scout and dig and turn over rocks looking for talent. Know anyone like that?! But, as you know, the Colts only have three picks in the first five rounds, 1/3/4. My view is that unless someone Grigson is madly in love with miraculously falls to 24, then I believe the Colts will trade back. It wouldn't surprise me if we traded back twice to acquire even more picks. I simply don't believe the draft will end and Grigson and the Colts will only have three players from the first five rounds. Apologies for the length, but I look forward to your thoughts.
A: History as shown there can be value at the 24th slot. Ask Dallas Clark. Like any slot it is not a given, but it is possible. Ryan has said if there is something there at 24 that generates excitement, we'll nab him. If not, we're not opposed to sliding back. You have nailed him with your description above, and how he built our roster over the past year really is impressive when you take a pause to notice. I would not be surprised if we have some movement next week. If we don't, then we would like how the board has fallen to us. Ryan thinks both lines and the secondary have some good prospects. Being a "trench guy" himself, he thinks it is a good trench draft. Sounds like you're glad he's pulling the punches here.
PATRICK K. (from Danbury, CT) Do you think the Colts will win the AFC South, now that the Colts have the third-easiest schedule in 2013?
A: I would be real careful about saying any schedule is the easiest, next-to-easiest, etc. Things stated on paper, even using math from a just-completed previous season, are not something I would bank on. True Denver, Houston, San Francisco, Seattle and Cincinnati are the only 2013 opponents with winning records in 2012. Games are settled on the field. We looked like a favorable matchup to a number of teams last year, and we were anything but an easy touch. I think if we play to our ability level and keep the same focus on the process that we did in 2012 that we have a legitimate chance to make some noise. The three other South teams will be trying to do the same thing. We had some tight ones last year, and I expect more of the same. There's no doubt we'll be wearing a bigger target this year.
TIM R. (from Santee, CA) Are the Colts all interested in, if available in the first round, Bjoern Werner? Watching his footage, he reminded me of J.J Watt, so I feel he would be a good pick up to our defense. Also, I was wondering if the Colts have at all scouted Darren McFadden from San Diego State? Being a SDSU season ticket holder, I watched him play a lot, and he is a very good player but very under the radar. Thanks for your time, (it's) really cool you guys take questions.
A: At 24th, I'm not sure Bjoern Werner will be around. J.J. Watt has caused a lot of draft followers to project that type of career for Werner. I'm sure Werner would love that to be the case. If so, his migration to our country would provide a financial windfall. If he's there at 24th, I bet it would cause some serious discussion in our draft room, and probably some in-coming phone calls. As for McFadden, I bet we've seen him. I'm not sure what we think since we never discuss specific prospects, but thanks for mentioning him. Maybe your mention of him jogs a thought. I do remember a prime player coming from SDSU through here about 20 years ago on his way to Canton. As an Aztec backer, I know you'll be following where McFadden goes. Thanks for your question. We like hearing from football fans, particularly if we can convert them to being Colts fans.
JONATHAN L. (from Los Angeles, VA) Everyone that speaks of Tom Telesco always speaks very highly of him. How much will his absence affect our personnel department, and how much was he a part of our successful draft class last year? Ryan Grigson is the head honcho, so I believe he is just as capable of repeating that success, but two heads are always better than one.
A: I would echo anyone who speaks highly of Tom. We were fortunate to have him here for 15 years, and he contributed to many of our successes as he worked his way up through the ranks. Tom's departure is part of the business when someone is distinguished in his line of work. It happened for Ryan Grigson in 2012 and everyone wishes Tom all the best. He should do a solid job in San Diego. That said, we have a great replacement in Jimmy Raye, who joined us from San Diego. Jimmy is just as distinguished in his own regard, and he has assimilated well into our structure. Jimmy spent 17 of his 18 NFL years with the Chargers, and he will help us continue to "Build the Monster." Ryan has a talented wingman again, and Colts fans have no worries.
AARON H. (from Perry, GA) I met Justin Anderson at Chick-fil-A in Perry. Is he going to get any playing time this 2013 season? He seems like a great guy and would love to see him play. Tell him I said, 'Hi,' if you see him. Love the Colts!
A: You sent your request on April 10, and I just bumped into Justin and told him I heard he liked Chick-fil-A. He laughed and remembered being in your town. Justin is from the general area and was passing through and we laughed that someone, somewhere sees everything that happens, particularly if you're an athlete. Justin was not able to play last year because of a foot injury. He should be ready for training camp, and here's hoping he can make a push. Your instincts on him are correct, and I hope it helps you follow the Colts.