ANDERSON – Each week, readers of Colts.com can submit their questions to have a chance of them being answered in our Wednesday mailbag.
Here is this week's collection:Isak H., Mexico: Now that Donald Thomas is on IR, would the team consider a trade that could send Cody Parkey and Kelvin Sheppard to Tennessee for Gabe Ikard? or maybe Xavier Nixon and Weslye Saunders to St. Louis for Barrett Jones? We need a good C/G/T and these are the only two I can think a team could trade and they could succeed in the colts.
Bowen: I see you have a strong affinity towards some of the interior rookie linemen around the league. There are plenty of options out there but teams just don't trade draft picks before their rookie season has even started. It's clear the Colts feel pretty comfortable with their current makeup among the interior spots. The tackles aren't going anywhere and there's a reason you drafted guys like Jack Mewhort, Khaled Holmes and Hugh Thornton in the first four rounds of their respective drafts. Now, a new wave of players will become available on August 26 when first cuts are made to 75 players. So, this personnel staff will continue to exhaust all outlets to look for additional help.
Domevelo Muenda, Indianapolis: Alot has been made of the Donald Thomas injury. No one seems to mention the improvement the offensive line showed in the post season with the addition of Xavier Nixon at OG in place of Thomas. He performed admirably and drew praise from announcers if I'm not mistaken in the New England loss. Losing Thomas is a loss in terms of experience but I'm not as worried about talent deficiencies. Your thoughts
Bowen: Nixon was thrust into action at a position that he did not play at all in college. For an undrafted free agent, who did not spend the 2013 offseason with the Colts, Nixon performed very solid in his rookie campaign. He's battled a knee injury through the recent stages of camp while backing up Gosder Cherilus at right tackle, his more natural position. The loss of Thomas is significant though. When the Colts signed him in 2013, Thomas was thought to be a key cog in shoring up the interior offensive line. Now, it's up to three players, all under the age of 25, to take on that task.
Dave H, Sebring, FL: I WAS CHECKING OUT OTHER TEAMS ROSTERS. AND SAW SEVERAL PLAYERS LISTED AS [ SAF ] UNDER POSITION! SO, WHAT THAT STAND FOR? AND I NOTICED THAT WE ARE STILL CARRING BALLARD ON THE ROSTER, WASN'T HE INJURED, AND SHOULD BE ON THE PUP LIST!
Bowen: I would assume that they are trying to shorten "safety". It definitely isn't the most common way to go about things and I prefer the "FS" or "SS". But, I believe that is what "SAF" refers to.
Ballard will be placed on injured reserve. This time of year, with cuts not coming until August 26, if a player is placed on IR then he has to first clear waivers before reverting back to the team's IR list. Teams would take a hard look at possibly claiming Ballard knowing that if he can come back healthy in 2015, they will have gotten a great asset for virtually no work.
Darrell Skaggs, Brownsburg, IN: There have always been injuries in the NFL and I know they take some pretty good hits but was wondering if better conditioning would help. I hate hearing of injuries at the beginning of training camp. I thought more conditioning during the off season might help.
Bowen: This is the million-dollar question and one that every NFL organization would love to know the answer to. Freak injuries are a part of life in every sport. Should there be more full-padded practices at Training Camp (which in theory would cause for more physicality and thus the greater risk of injury)? Or should things be tapered back and let players ease into the full pads (which the devil's advocate would then say players aren't completely ready for an NFL season)?
The Colts have taken their own measures to try and limit injuries (see video below). At Training Camp practices, the Colts have members of their strength and conditioning staff monitoring sensors that players are wearing to "control" soft tissue injuries. But at the end of the day, it's impossible to predict a durable Reggie Wayne planting the wrong way on an underthrown ball, or a Vick Ballard suffering two, non-contact, season-ending injuries after never missing a game in his football career.
Fela Wyse, Indianapolis, IN: Is Hakeem Nicks in shape for the season? How is the secondary shaping up?
Bowen: Since we have a Nicks question below, I'll focus on your other inquiry. Monday was our first look, albeit a short one, of what the starting secondary could look like on September 7. We saw Vontae Davis and LaRon Landry out there for about a dozen first team reps and that number was ramped up a bit on Tuesday. Davis, Landry and Greg Toler are your starters but the question still remains who will emerge at the other safety spot. Currently, Delano Howell is your starter with Sergio Brown and Mike Adams also getting some first team reps.
Shawn Stuffel, Lafayette, IN: I have seen articles about pep Hamilton not happy with Hakeem Nick's conditioning and performance thus far through camp. was wondering your thoughts about this and if there's a reason for it. does he not feel comfortable with the playbook, is he injured or his way of preventing injurying, or even no motivation???
Bowen: Personally I thought the quote was taken a bit out of context and now has turned into a bigger story than it really is. It seemed to me that Hamilton said he hadn't had enough time to make a firm evaluation yet on Nicks. On several occasions, Nicks has openly admitted that it's a work in process of him trying to get on the same page with Andrew Luck. That's the most important goal for Nicks this camp and he's been a consistent presence during practice. Sure, T.Y. Hilton and Reggie Wayne are clearly on a different level right now in terms of comfort with Luck, but Nicks has proven throughout his career that he shows up on some of the largest of stages.