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. Please 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.
CURT H. (from New Castle, IN) I saw the first highlights of OTAs and the excitement started. We will have an explosive offense this year? Can't wait! Any idea if there will be any of the OTAs open to the public as in years past?
A: Readers keep asking about practices open to the public, but we have none planned until training camp at Anderson University. This is a bit of a departure from past seasons, but training camp opens around July 23, and we will be announcing our camp practice dates soon. When we do, I'll list it in the mailbag and we will have it on our website. We hope to see you in Anderson. As for the offense, there should be a pretty wide range of weapons for us. On paper, it could approximate some that we saw a few years ago during a prolific era. At this point, though, we're only at the potential stage. We've progressed from practicing on air to OTA work. Contact lies ahead in camp. Without a guarantee, I think you'll see one that is a blast to watch this year.
LOUIE B. (from Portland, IN) I am an avid reader of the mailbag. I noticed in your account of the most wins by a QB in their first two years you have Otto Graham. I believe Otto had his wins when only 12 games were played each year. Also, did Dan Marino play when it was 14 games? Otto is my favorite QB of all-time. I assume he is also the first basketball player (at least an All-American player), who also played pro basketball, in the NFL. I also found out when moving to Portland long after Otto's career his TE, Pete Brewster, was from here. I feel that Ryan Grigson has done a good job and his draftees this year will do well for several years.**
A: Otto Graham is one of the top five (my opinion and maybe even the top four) QBs ever to play, and his NFL years with Cleveland (1950-55; the Browns were in the AAFC prior to then) were 12-game seasons. His NFL starting record was 57-13-1, and he helped direct the Browns in his franchise's greatest era. Dan Marino played only in 16-game seasons. The NFL had 12-game seasons from 1953-60, 14-game seasons from 1961-77. The schedule has been 16 games since then. Thanks for the history lesson on Otto and Pete Brewster. Indiana has had a number of greats to make the league, including Lamar Lundy and Weeb Ewbank from Richmond. Thanks for the kind words about Ryan and the job he's done. Coming from a learned source like you, it means something. I hope we have a place on your "favorites" list.
TOM M. (from Richmond, VA) My 10-year old and I are huge Colts fan, and he is a huge fan of getting his favorite team's players autographs. This year I would like to fly in for training camp for a few days. Is it reasonably easy for him to obtain autographs of the players, or is there a day that is better to attend camp for autographs? Thanks as I did not want to fly that distance and have him get disappointed.
A: While we do not promise autographs as part of a training camp visit, we do urge our players to accommodate fans along the ropes after practices. Our players do so frequently, and many people come away pleased. Understanding that, I would suggest you consult our website in the next week or so to find the practice days that fit you best. Attending more than one practice is the best way to increase your chances, and try to get as close to the ropes as possible when practice concludes. Again, no promises (please understand that), but our players are pretty good about doing this. Thanks for your support, and we'll see you there.
JON P. (from California) I came across an interesting stat at the forum about Colts' red zone TD efficiency. Although they rank 10th as a team which is not too bad, but Andrew Luck's ranking was pretty low. I was wondering if Luck and the coaches would do extra emphasis and drills this year during training camp like Peyton used to do when the team struggled in that area? Not surprisingly, Peyton is ranked number one in that area right now.
A: We work very hard in that regard in practice and were one of the NFL's top teams last year through the first half of the season. We dropped a bit in red zone offense in the second half of the season and while we can't use Reggie's injury as the reason (and we don't make excuses), it had to have an impact. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, our TD rate down there was 56 percent, and we scored 90 percent of the time we reached the 20. That's not enough for our standards, but practice was not the issue. We'll keep working on the execution down there because it's so critical, and we appreciate your concern. We want our red zone TD percentage to be higher than 14th in the NFL. I'm sure it's a point of emphasis. Last year, four teams exceeded a 60 percent TD mark, while two (Denver, Cincinnati) were above 70 percent. That is the success rate we aim to reach, and thanks for a good letter.
BOB B. (from Deltona, FL) I think it would be nice to see Jadeveon Clowney be given special attention when the Texans play the Colts, and it would be nice to see him be put on his backside. I think his comments (about Andrew Luck needing to watch out for him) would give the Colts' O-Line incentive to shut up this rookie's mouth. He hasn't played one down in the NFL, and already he's talking trash.
A: I'll cut him some slack for the enthusiasm of the moment. You're only drafted once. Comments like that are common on the landscape, and I don't think we'll need any external factors to fuel our competitive nature. We wanted to bring the division flag back to Indianapolis last year and went 6-0 in the AFC South. It will be tough again, and he's joining a talented team. We'll see them six games into the season. That will be our third AFC South game and fifth conference game. That will factor much more into our thinking. If you feel differently, that's okay. I'm sure you want us to do what's best in how we prepare.
WYATT M. (from League City, TX) Thank you for taking the time to answer the fans' questions. It means a lot and shows the Colts are a great organization that cares about communicating with their fans. How is Donald Thomas coming along from his injury? He was playing well last year before his season ended. He would be a huge boost to our O-line if healthy. I just hope he's 100% by training camp. Also, do you see Ricky Jean Francois or Art Jones playing NT next year?
A: Wyatt, it's always a pleasure chatting with fans. We love them and need them. Donald is coming along well in his recovery. He spent the large bulk of the off-season here, and he's trending the way we want him to. Donald's return will be a boost, and I don't sense any problems having him back for camp. Donald is a hard worker and great guy (one of the best in a locker room of character players). As for NT, Art could be the guy. It could be Josh Chapman. Ricky Jean Francois should see some very legitimate time on the field. How we line up there is important (and a bit of a secret, perhaps), but there is a lot of work to be done in the remaining OTAs and camps. It's probably better to talk about things like this later, and I think we'll pretty stout there this year.
JESSE S. (from Palm Bay, FL) I am a long-time Colts fan (Super Bowl III). I am thrilled with the Colts' rapid improvement with Grigson and Pagano at the helm. Is there any word on how Bjoern Werner and Daniel Adongo are progressing as pass rushers? Hopefully, they are poised to take major steps forward. Jonathan Newsome was listed as a LB in draft publications and shows, but the Colts have him listed as a DE. Were the experts wrong, or do the Colts see more potential for him there? Are they trying to maximize their pass rush on obvious passing downs? (Mathis, Werner or Walden, Jones, Newsome and maybe Redding or Adongo all charging the pocket at the same time could be a very frightening thing for opposing QBs.)
A: You've followed us about half a century, congrats. Bjoern and Daniel both have been working in OTAs, and Bjoern has been getting some pretty good exposure. He had a batted pass against the first unit last week, and we want them both involved as they keep maturing. Daniel (click here for story) is up to 282 now, 42 pounds more than when he arrived, and it's good weight that's not restricting him. They need to keep doing what they're doing. We need the contributions, but you don't want to judge too much from what we've seen to this point. Jonathan played both 3-4 and 4-3 in college. We have him listed at DE, and we think he can play both sides and has the skill set to rush, drop and work the edge. We do want to crash the pocket better this year. Our sacks spiked almost 25 percent in Chuck's second season here. We'll try to find a way to hopefully get it around 50 this year with the guys you mentioned. It's a bit early to see exactly how it's going to go, but you've listed very likely suspects.
MARY H. (from Martinsville, IN) Have the Colts released their Fan Fest schedule for the summer of 2014? As in previous years, will there also be another tour featuring players and cheerleader autographs, but with no musical entertainment? If so, when do you think that schedule might be released?
A: Mary, I have gotten with our events people and they have provided the link for all the information. Here is the link (http://www.colts.com/fanzone/events/fanfest.html) and I hope there is something there you will attend.