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Colts Mailbag - April 16, 2014 (Part Two)

This week, mailbag readers ask or talk about Hakeem Nicks' jersey number, if number 88 ever will be retired, which AFC South team has improved the most in free agency, if the defense will be strong enough for Andrew Luck to win more than Peyton Manning, what positions are being targeted for the draft, if Chuck Pagano has reached out to Jim Kelly, if Ahmad Bradshaw will be retained past this year, if Luck would seek coaching outside of the team to help his development, if Ryan Grigson reads the mailbag and what the off-season practice schedule is. This is part two of two. Check for part one.





INDIANAPOLIS – Readers of 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.  Please make an effort to be concise when submitting a question.

MIKEY N. (from Springdale, AR) How come we have made no moves at Alex Mack from Cleveland?  The Jaguars just offered him $22 million, so now they're (probably) going to have a very decent center for either Johnny Manziel or Teddy Bridgewater (most likely).  What do you think our TE duo will look like this year?  Do you think we could have somewhat of a two-headed monster, similar to what New England had with Gronk and Hernandez in 2011?  I'm thinking that with our WRs plus some great RBs, we could do that.  Also, when is training camp?

A:  Cleveland opted to match Jacksonville's offer for Mack, so he remains with the Browns.  You hear Jacksonville was Mack's only visit, so it seems teams were a little reticent about getting too deep in the bidding.  As for the Jaguars, you wouldn't be surprised to see them draft a QB, and they've done a lot to improve their team.  Should they opt not to take a QB third overall, that would be a reflection they don't think one is worthy of the spot or that a mistake with that choice at that position is too costly and that another option is available later in the draft.  As for us, Ryan Grigson said we pretty much got everything we sought, and you can't spend your whole wad of cash in free agency.  Sorry if this doesn't please you, but we'll develop our plans another way at center.  I think your depiction of Coby Fleener-Dwayne Allen is spot on.  You've seen this done well around the league, and we have two guys there we really want to get on the field.  We've had some great double-TE production through the years, and this could be among our best tandems.  We have not issued our training camp dates, but it should start around the first of August at Anderson University.  As you know, those are the only practices open to the public.

KEVIN R. (from Schoolcraft, MI) If Ahmad Bradshaw has a productive year will we keep him or release him?  With Jeff Saturday and all the other great centers the Colts have had, will Phil Costa be able withstand the pressure of being the Colts' center?

A:  I don't doubt that Ahmad will be fine after the injury he suffered last year.  There is a pretty good body of work from players who have gone through the same thing and returned strongly.  With our stated interest in running the ball, I think any RB who is productive has a chance to hang around.  Ahmad is a seasoned guy who fits our traits.  That said, we'll have to see.  We have enough to worry about in 2014.  Phil will do just fine.  Players and teams don't try to create undue pressures and though we've have notable performers like Jeff, Phil will be himself and prepare that way.

PAUL C. (from Illinois) Does Andrew Luck work with a private QB coach in the off-season like Peyton Manning did with David Cutcliffe?  I think Luck's way ahead of the curve, but there's always room for improvement.  The one consistent bad throw I saw last year was when he threw over the head of the receiver.  Do you think that was a mechanical issue, or a result of having a constant pass rush in his face affecting his delivery?  Those throws seemed to occur less frequently later in the year, around the same time the interior line play improved.

A:  Unless I am mistaken, Peyton reached out to David Cutcliffe during the time of labor unsettlement in 2011 and while he was recuperating from his medical processes.  He was under Cutcliffe's coaching at Tennessee, and Cutcliffe later coached Eli at Ole Miss, so he had a great (and wildly productive) working relationship with the Manning family.  I believe Peyton wanted Cutcliffe to monitor techniques he had helped hone when Peyton was younger.  Peyton has since used Duke as an off-season site to work with teammates since team sites are not venues for work until later in the spring.  While with us, Peyton did not have outside coaching.  He was under the watch of Tom Moore, Jim Caldwell, Clyde Christensen and a handful of others.  Andrew may be like other current QBs and work at other locations like their colleges, but that would be for conditioning.  I am not aware of any coaching he would receive (or enlist) outside of our staff.  I hope that answers your question about outside instruction.  I don't feel comfortable getting into conversation about mechanics and the observation you made.  Andrew was successful on a number of deep throws last year.  A nice number were deadly accurate, and one of a QB's best friends is a clean pocket. 

PAUL M. (from Pittston, PA) Love the FA pick-ups on the defensive side.  Any thoughts on depth in the defensive backfield?  The three starters are all injury prone – Greg Toler, LaRon Landry and Vontae Davis.  When healthy, they are a talented bunch, but Toler and Landry have a history of missing multiple games.  Do you think the Colts made enough off season moves to keep pace with Denver and New England?

A:  I don't think we would shy away from using the draft to supplement the area.  Chuck feels there is some safety depth available, and we'll see how the board shapes up when it's our turn.  Greg and LaRon combined to miss 13 starts, while Greg left the Kansas City playoff game early.  In three of LaRon's seven years he has missed four or more starts.  That's not too bad.  Greg has been limited the last three years, and we want both on the field as much as possible.  Vontae is poised to take his place among the league's best, in my opinion.  I wouldn't be surprised if we were to address additions in the backfield in the draft, but the three guys you asked about I think will be impact performers for us this year.  As far as keeping up with New England and Denver, I don't think you can look at free agency solely as a race against other teams.  You have to do what's best for your program.  In that regard, I love what we did.  To assume two teams will be your only competition, I don't think that's how we look at it either.

RICHARD W. (from Tulsa, OK) Recently, I asked if the organization was going to update the field logo.  Personally, I like the logo, but I would like to see it redesigned with the same format.  More of a three-dimensional look would be fantastic.  Just a thought, but maybe the team could have a contest to see if a fan could create a creative design that upholds the proud traditional of Colts football and spark enthusiasm in the fans and players alike.

A:  I haven't been put off by your suggestion.  Should we ever make a change to update to the playing surface, it might be something to consider.  To do that just for the sake of change if the turf were still good, that might be a high-ticket item just to change for change sake.  I'll put this in so our staff can see your suggestion.  Thanks again for the input.

RICHARD W. (from Tampa, FL) Will Colts try to get a safety in second round?  Are they interested in looking at CB for depth in that position (for) someone like Stanley Jean-Baptiste?  (He's) a good, physical player, just what Chuck Pagano wants his defense to be.

A:  You're the third person to mention Stanley as a possibility.  The draft should have some talent around, particularly at safety.  I don't know our plans and won't ask, but I think we all know the sweet tooth Chuck has for secondary play.  I think by the time training camp rolls around, we will have competition stacked the way we want it, and I bet fans will like how we look this year.

DAVID H. (from Sebring, FL) Will the staff want Phil Costa to strength train more and bulk up this season since at center he takes on huge players from every team?  It would be better for our center to bigger and stronger.  Samson Satele got best, while Mike McGlynn handled them well.

A:  Phil will be under the watch of Roger Marandino and Richard Howell, our conditioning aces.  They develop protocols for each player, and we want power at the point of attack.  Phil will be just fine when he gets here.  Samson and Mike were battlers and while I know everyone on the outside will be watching the line like hawks, I think we'll be fine.

ROY P. (from Pennsylvania) Who in the front office do you consider ready to be an NFL GM?  And will we be seeing Justin Hickman as the up-back and Mario Harvey as the "offensive up-back?"

A:  The Colts certainly have spawned some outstanding personnel careers of people who have come through the ranks, but I don't want to get into any speculation along those lines.  Suffice to say, we have some talented guys under Ryan Grigson, some with long tenures and others who are getting valuable experience.  We're very fortunate in that regard.  As for Justin and Mario, they are committed to our program and are talented and selfless.  Thanks for the chance to mention them in the mailbag.  Those are roles each played well, and teams historically play to their strengths.  We'll have to see, but we look forward to Justin and Mario making their pushes to contribute.

ISAK H. (from Mexico City, Mexico) Does Ryan Grigson read the mailbag?  It would be hilarious if he did.  We speak so badly of our centers all the time and he could have a good laugh.

A:  You bet Ryan reads it.  We pass out clippings daily, and the mailbag is sent along internally each Thursday.  From time-to-time, I bounce things off Chuck and Ryan so answers are meaty.  No one penalizes fans for their thoughts, as long as they are presently fairly.  Ryan and all of us don't have to agree with what is said, but all of us have a great appreciation for people who follow the team.  We couldn't exist without our fans, and we have a great base of them.  Criticisms?  It goes with the job.  We just focus internally to be the best we can be.  That's our job.  It's your job and that of others to keep firing questions our way.

TED H. (from Alamogordo, NM) This stretch of off season is brutal, little real news, so many people slamming FAs being acquired, so many mock drafts.  I need to find another mental activity for this period next year.  Could you give me a good breakdown on OTA as it pertains to veterans and rookies?  Is it mostly conditioning, getting rookies on board mentally or a combination of several things? Can't wait for training camp!

A:  We urge our players to get away when the season is over because we want them back here at the appropriate time, which is next Monday (April 21).  The off-season program has three phases.  The first runs two weeks, and activities are limited to strength/conditioning and physical rehabilitation.  Phase two is a three-week stretch where on-field workouts are allowed, however, they are limited to individual player instruction and drills as well as team practice are conducted on a separated basis.  No live contact is permitted and team offense versus team defense is prohibited.  Phase three is Organized Team Activities (OTAs).  Teams can have a maximum of 10 OTA sessions.  No live contact is allowed, but 7-on-7, 9-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills are permitted.  There is instruction going on from coaches.  The club's OTAs are May 27-29, June 2-4 and June 9-12. There is a rookie mini-camp May 16-18 and a full-team mini-camp set in mid-June.  You can see the work is graduated and builds to the end.  This is a great learning, orientation and bonding period.  Coaches establish the message for the season, and we will have updates on a daily basis.  This will feed your appetite until the work in pads starts in training camp around the first of August.  Thanks for asking for yourself, and others.

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