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.
DANIEL B. (from Newcastle, UK) Hi Craig, love the mailbag. I'm a long-time reader from the other side of the pond but first time writing in. There are two topics I would like your views on please. First, my mate, Kris, is an Eagles fan (but don't judge him, he just has poor taste - he also supports the awful Sunderland in the EPL. TOON TOON! BLACK AND WHITE ARMY!) - says that Andrew Luck and the other rookies who did so well last year will suffer from a sophomore slump and as a result will struggle to get four wins. I, however, think it will be a case of onwards and upwards, with at least an appearance in the AFC Championship game. How do you see it going next season? Secondly, can Mr. Irsay not strong arm Mr. Khan into getting a divisional game played at Wembley? It would be fantastic to see the Colts on British soil. LONG LIVE LUCK!!
A: Glad you've been a reader and now a participant. We've heard the notion of a sophomore slump floated about this season for Andrew and this year's team. I remember hearing it bandied about in 1999 when Peyton was going into his second season. Those things are premises not grounded in fact. You understand why they're out there and you're grateful for attention, but opinions, good or bad, don't truly relate to how a team will do. It's always how sharp you are and how well you counteract the opponent. Let Kris have his opinion and just try to convert him to being a Colts fan. We'll take you on our side, and I hope our results meet your aspirations. We'll just focus on things we can control. I'm not sure we can force or finesse the chance to play Jacksonville in London. It would be fun, but I don't think the Jaguars would want to play a division game there. Andrew just got back from over there. Perhaps he will make a return trip with his teammates sometime. If so, I bet you're in attendance.
JEFF S. (from Savannah, GA) I was born in 1988 and the first football game I remember watching was a Tennessee Volunteer game in 1996. I followed Peyton Manning and have been a Colts fan ever since. I remember one time hearing Peyton say if we keep scoring they will never catch us. I always thought it was the best way to play "Colts ball." Do we plan on being more conservative than previous years?
A: I once heard Peyton tell a sixth-grader, "Tell your coach if you're not throwin', you're not tryin' to win." I remember the quote you mention, too. I don't think you will be able to put a "conservative" label on us. I think a "smart" label will be appropriate. I think there will be a more concerted ground attack but with a player of Andrew's talent, you have to take well-programmed shots around the field. You saw a well-designed attack here for many Manning years, and I am glad your loyalties have remained with the Horseshoe. I don't think we'll disappoint you.
G. W. (from Temecula, CA) Next year: A veteran RB will be in his contract year. His first three years he absorbed almost no punishment being #2 to #1 RB in Minnesota. In college, he carried the team on his back. He became stronger with each progressing carry. His former coach is now an OC in the NFL. His former QB is now playing in the NFL. His former TE is playing in the NFL. His WR is playing in the NFL. All former teammates are on the same NFL team. Who is he? Do you think there will be any interest in him? (Hint: OC = Pep Hamilton, QB = Andrew Luck, TE = Coby Fleener, WR = Griff Whalen, S = Delano Howell.)
A: Nice try and certainly a unique way of posing a question. You get style points, but league rules (and common sense) prohibit me from talking about another team's personnel. My team wouldn't like it, nor would Leslie Frazier – one of the classiest guys of all time. You sound like a loyal Stanford guy, and we'll let next year take care of itself. I do appreciate your question. Are you related to Frank Gorshin by chance?
JEFF P. (from Bristol, CT) Hi. One, I really like the way our defense is shaping up – good size on D-line, good linebackers and a very good secondary. Our safeties may be the best in the league. Two, we have good TEs and WRs to give Andrew Luck plenty of looks. The O-line looks better also. My question is what do you think our biggest area of concern is?
A: I won't call it a concern, it's more intrigue than anything else. I want to see how the receivers battle it out. I think we have a lot of talent there. I want to see how we line up with offensive linemen/tight ends/fullbacks in the new offense. We could see some varied looks and interesting alignments. I would like to see Delone Carter make a push. On paper, we seem to have talented prospects across the defense. I hope how it looks on paper equates to the field. If so, we could have one of our better defenses in our Indianapolis era. I'll be concerned for health. Everything else is anticipation how it plays out.
RUSSELL J. (from Omaha, NE) Could you talk about the progression of the offensive line? How is our third-round pick doing? Could there be a surprise coming from camp?
A: Surprises in training camp usually seem to be bad things. I think the line is coming along just fine. Gosder Cherilus and Anthony Castonzo should be fine at tackles. I like the rest of the rest of the way it's shaping up. As far as Khaled Holmes, he seems like a very smooth presence, very smart and doing well alongside Hugh Thornton on the second team. Neither has done one thing to disappoint. Again, we're not in pads. Again, they're rookies, too. They still need to get acclimated to our culture and remain in their playbook. We have shown before how much we expect from our rookies. We have mini-camp after OTAs end on June 6. We still have a lot to learn. I know you want a real snapshot, but I don't think we're there yet.
ISAK H. (from Mexico City, Mexico) I have a question with the 53-man roster. Who is projected to make it? On the D-line we have Fili Moala and Drake Nevis, as well as Ricky Jean François and Cory Redding (who is obviously in). But there is Lawrence Guy, who is intriguing, too. At D-tackle, we have Aubrayo Franklin, Brandon McKinney, Josh Chapman and Montori Hughes. Assuming that Chapman and Hughes are in, who is #3? In the OL, what is happening? Are Chandler Harnish and Griff Whalen probable to make the roster?
A: Like Russell's question above, it's really too early to tell. We have a pretty good group that's competing, and that was the goal of Ryan Grigson and Chuck Pagano. How it shakes out will be seen in training camp. I'll never say we have too much talent and concerns can crop up at any point, but you do have to like the players we have competing right now.
PATRICK K. (from Danbury, NC) Which TE will have the starting role going into training camp?
A: With no specific inside knowledge because we're still getting the offense implemented and players accustomed to it, I'll go out on a thick branch and say Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen. I know that's not a risky answer. Coach Pagano said last week Fleener could double his catches from last year. Dwayne is the type of guy you want on the field. I think we'll look a lot like last year in terms of bodies. How we use them will be the question.
DAVE L. (from Vermont) I thought Griff Whalen was showing some great potential before he got hurt last year in pre-season. Is he at OTA's and how does he look? If he is healthy and playing well we should have some good competition at WR. I need to say that I have been a Colts fan for a number of years and this is the most positive I have felt about going into a season, and a lot has to do with Andrew Luck showing he is the future, all the good players competing for jobs and being one complete year removed from that, 'Bend but don't break Tampa-2.'
A: You sure sound like a long, loyal backer. That defense helped win a large number of games for us, but it is a new era. I think people will like seeing this year's defense. I think the line will be particularly interesting. As for Griff, he's here and showing fluency with the offense (not to mention pretty good hands). He, Andrew and Coby certainly have a small leg up having used many principles at Stanford. Griff is a worker, and I hope he stays healthy and gives it a great push. He is one of 10 wide receivers right now competing for about five slots. You mentioned Andrew, and he's right at home on the field and in the locker room. He has that professional knack in every area that makes him a leader. There is a lot to look forward to, and you hope the roster health stays intact and that the guys can play to their talent levels. You're probably counting the days until training camp starts.
WAYLON H. (from undisclosed) I have just spent the last two and a half weeks in the Salt Lake City area, and this is not a hot bed of Colts fans. I always try to bring the Colts into the conversation where ever I go, and I've seen some real interest in Jeremy Kelley, Kerwynn Williams, but the most excitement is over Caesar Rayford. I am hoping you can pass along some information on these new Colts over the next few weeks so when I return to SLC in six weeks we can add these fine folks to the Colts Nation. Thank you as always for making us the best informed fans in the NFL.**
A: You're a traveling Colts evangelist, and I love it. We addressed Jeremy and Caesar in last week's mailbag, and they're still here working hard. You have to love their sizes (Jeremy is 6-6, 225; Caesar is 6-7, 265), and they are impressive when they walk by. It's not surprising there is interest in Salt Lake City with their backgrounds with the Blaze. They're doing all they can in getting their feet under them here. I am sure both are in their playbooks, in fact, Jeremy was spotted as such recently in the locker room. You'll be back in SLC about the time training camp opens, and that will tell the tale. Tell fans there they are doing their best. Kerwynn is hard at it, too. He's very impressive and a pleasant guy. We appreciate your interest and in bringing up the Colts wherever you go. We may have to put you on some sort of retainer basis.
RICK H. (from Virginia) I really enjoy the pictures from OTA's and other camp activities. However, when I view the pictures, there are no captions telling me what I'm looking at. For those of us who don't live and breathe this every day, we just don't know who we are looking at in all cases. So, can there be captions added to the picture files displayed on your site?
A: Rick, you ask a good question. The photo gallery upload process, however, is not conducive to commenting on every image. It would be very time consuming to try to ID every player and what drill they are doing in each individual image. Because we want to provide these photo galleries to the website the same day a practice occurs, the current process is the only reasonable solution. With nearly 90 players participating in our OTAs, our photographer, Matt Bowen, tries to capture a little bit of everyone on the field. It makes our galleries quite large, an average of 100-150 images per gallery. The only way adding captions to each image would make sense is if the galleries were extremely small, maybe 10-15 images. This process would leave out a lot of players and not really give our fans a good overview of what is going on during each practice. You are smart to ask, and I hope fans like you don't lose too much with the tradeoff. We really appreciate you checking in on the galleries.
JOHNNY A. (from Cincinnati, OH) Hey there - been a die-hard fan since the days of Johnny U. Hope you let me slip in two questions: what became of signing The Icelander? Why is Werner not signed yet?
A: The Icelander???? Fact???? Fiction???? The answer is out there. As for Bjoern, I'm sure we'll "Git-R-Done." He's here and working. It's June. Training camp is waaaaaay down the line.
GARY B. (from Fairport, NY) In an attempt to identify why the lack of some players in OTA's I have two questions. Is Robert Mathis expected to be attending now that his wedding has taken place? What is the time table for Josh McNary to join the OTA's? Thanks putting up with all our annoying questions.**
A: Josh will show up here with the team when his military obligations are satisfied. While we would like him here now, duty to the country and serving for things which you have signed up for take precedence. As for Robert, we will see him at the right time. In our 29 years in Indianapolis, Robert is one of the all-time "pillar" players. His dedication runs as deeply as his motor does smoothly. We have had great attendance and Robert has been here a good portion of the time. No need to fret over any time he has not been here.
GAGE M. (from Danville, IL) I was wondering about John Boyett, is he healthy? I have seen that he has not been at some of the OTA's. This kid has a knack for football. I feel #41 (Antoine Bethea) will show him all the ropes and John will be a future replacement. One more thing DHB, this guy is fast but (he has) hands like rocks. Do we see him improving?
A: John had surgery on both knees last year, and that curtailed his senior season. He is here and is going through rehab. He is in on meetings, taking "mental reps." He cannot go in team drills, but he is out on the practice field. This is nothing out of the ordinary, in fact it was expected. Let's let training camp get here and see where we are with him. He is an impressive young player. He should be a sponge around Antoine, and Antoine always dispenses experienced information. We've had questions this year about future replacements for Reggie Wayne and Adam Vinatieri. Now, you've added A.B. to that list. His pedigree approaches those of Adam and Reggie, and I'll refrain from "future" talk on him, too. As for the comment on DHB, he's no Roberto Duran when it comes to his hands and 'No Mas' will I address that. Darrius has been a solid addition and will benefit from our environment. He has a great opportunity for big contributions.
DEBORAH M. (from Indianapolis) Why don't we play New England?
A: It is not a given that we play New England every year. It just seems that way. Sometimes we are scheduled against the AFC East and sometimes we are scheduled just to play the team in that division that finished the previous season in the same place (first, second, third or fourth) that we did. This year, we were scheduled only to play the AFC East team that finished second – Miami – since that is where we ended up last year in the AFC South. We played every AFC East team in 2003, 2006, 2009 and 2012 as part of the league's rotation formula. This year, the AFC division we play in its entirety is the West. That we faced New England also in 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2011 truly was uncommon, though it provided some of the best annual NFL drama in the past decade. The regular-season meeting for the Patriots and us is on hiatus for this year. The only way we could see them is if both teams make the playoffs. Thanks for the question.