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 questions here.
Here are responses to some of the questions received recently. We thank you for your interest in the Colts.
R.J. E. (from Marion, IN) I've been wondering if Pat "Boomstick" McAfee will be given the opportunity to become the first kicker in the NFL to do kickoffs, punts and field goals when Adam Vinatieri retires? Will it even be considered, or is that too many eggs in one basket? I say give him a shot! #boomstick**
A: I think having one player do all presents problems on at least two fronts. You risk wearing down a player while having him practice and master the specific fundamentals of each area, and you risk the team in two phases of special teams play with one potential injury. If you did have a "do-it-all" kicker and he got hurt, you likely would not be bringing in a replacement who could do both, so that would affect your roster composition adversely. I'm sure a special teams coach could raise even more valid concerns, probably along the lines of how practice drills are run since some punters are holders, too. Pat is a good punter and kickoff specialist. I'm not downplaying his long-range field goal ability either. We know he can boom it, but to have him do all in competition is a leap I don't think we would make. History is not dotted with successful stories like this for good reason, and the NFL has been around about 90 years. I think it's better to keep those jobs separate.
JOHNNY M. (from Pageland, SC) What are your impressions of Justice Cunningham and do you think he has a place on this roster?
A: Justice worked well with the other rookies in their camp about a week ago. He showed the physical nature we liked when we drafted him, along with some ability in the passing game. I'm sure his head was swimming like a bunch of guys' were. He got more work in the week after the rookie camp, and he is in OTAs now. I'm sure there are many in your area who will be watching closely. Justice has done nothing yet to disappoint. How the roster ends up, though, will be determined much, much later.
PHIL D. (from Los Angeles, CA) Thanks on your insight on our "No Coast offense" last week. My question this week is about our first-round pick this year. What makes Bjoern Warner so special? Is he really that good? I keep reading stories about how impressed our coaches are with him. Is he our replacement to Dwight Freeney? I'm waiting to see if he is as good as advertised!!! #Always reppin that All Blue Horse Shoe Crew!!!**
A: He's a high-motor guy who will fit in well. His FSU coach Jimbo Fisher praised him to me about how he always kept asking how to go the extra mile to benefit the program. I know we will see that here, too. Bjoern's a tremendous physical prospect, and we will get a lot out of him. Is he the replacement for Dwight Freeney? He'll be a big component, among others. I would caution about drawing direct parallels between the two and just let him develop. I think you'll find he is as good as advertised. Thanks for being a loyal "West Coast" contributor.
DAVE L. (from Vermont) How a team overcomes injuries will be a major guide to how well they finish the year. The more players you can have on your team the better your chances to handle the injury problem. Is it time for Adam Vinatieri to retire and Pat McAfee to also do field goal and extra point kicking? Or, Brandon McManus replace them both? To get one player to be your punter, kickoff, field goal and extra point person would give the Colts one more person for injury insurance. Do you know how well McManus does in practice, or how well McAfee does on field goals in practice (if he practices field goals)?
A: First Reggie Wayne, now Adam Vinatieri. The talk about successors and retirees is getting a little old. The shoes at Adam's locker are not senior citizen types. Don't be in a rush to boot him out of here. I think Adam has quite a few good years yet, and he conditions meticulously. Let him be. He still has a lot of pop left, not to mention guile. Also, let Pat McAfee be, too (see above answer for this topic). Brandon McManus showed a pretty good leg in rookie camp. He nailed a few from long distance and handled himself just fine. I don't want to deep-six your question. It's a legitimate one, and I appreciate the contribution and your interest in the team. I think shaving roster spots can get a team in trouble, and I don't like to talk exit strategies with players of Adam's or Pat's pedigree. I do like that you're engaged with us. Keep it up.
PATRICK K. (from Danbury, NC) Do you think Bjoern Werner will be the starter over Erik Walden?
A: I think you will see both on the field a pretty good bit. Greg Manusky said the other day it's not necessarily an "either-or" matter of who will be on the field. There could be some ways to incorporate both at the same time. Sometimes people get hung up on "starts." I think I've been guilty of that as a publicist sometimes. Being on the field a healthy percentage of the time is something we will do with as many contributors as we can. Watching both Bjoern and Erik will be fun in OTAs and training camp. Greg is smart enough to get difference-makers out there.
MIKE B. (from Murfreesboro, TN) Do the Colts seem to be better on the defensive line and linebacker positions with new additions?
A: I think that almost goes without saying. We have added some veterans and rookies to both areas. The competition should be pretty intense as we move into the season. Having a saltier defensive presence has been a very big priority during the off-season, and Ryan Grigson (and his staff) and Chuck Pagano have done a pretty good job of getting some new pieces on board. Last year was a learning process that took a good bit of the spring and summer. You get the feel around there now that we are much farther ahead than we were last year. I think the results will be evident.
JOE S. (from New York, NY) I don't know if you can help, but the pictures of rookies that were taken are great but why don't they put the names so we can tell who they are? It's hard with all the new faces.A: Now that we are into OTAs, players will be wearing jerseys. They will be much easier to identify on our site. I know where you're coming from with your suggestion. Believe me, even people in the building have been working hard to learn the new faces. You should see the difference this week in Matt Bowen's pictures. I kidded him about it Monday on the field, and he likes having players in jerseys, too. Thanks for the suggestion.
DAVID H. (from Sebring, FL) All around the league, cities are doing a lot to get the next Super Bowl. Some are building new stadiums. Others are updating everything from video screens, seating, etc. Will Indianapolis also try new and better things to draw more attention and attract the NFL to have the Super Bowl in Indianapolis more often and not every so many years? Also, on Sportscenter, (broadcasters) said to look for the Colts not to win more games this year but to fall back. They said the Colts had over-achieved and with the loss of Bruce Arians and possibly a second-year slump for Andrew Luck (will hurt). I know Arians leaving hurts, and our offensive and defensive lines got better. I can't see our team dropping off. All I see is that we get better in every area. Don't you agree?
A: We never are through trying to make Lucas Oil Stadium the best facility in the NFL. We have added a number of amenities in recent seasons to keep us on the cutting edge, elements related to scoreboards, wireless access – things to get people to our games and for them to remain connected while they are there. Super Bowl XLVI was an outstanding experience for everyone, and we earned praise from the NFL for our efforts. The size and intimacy of the stadium made for a great game experience. That intimacy has been lost in other venues because of size. We also were able to work in concert with the league to see what works best in their eyes. Suffice to say, we are hitting on every possible cylinder. There always will be a rotation of sites for the game. Having it here regularly may be a push, but there was nothing in our first effort that would hinder a possible return. The next possible chance would be Super Bowl LII in February 2018. Should the city decide to bid, likely competition could come from New Orleans, Denver, South Florida and Minneapolis. We've talked before about pundits. They are paid for opinions, and the key is not to over-react. They'll say what they say. It's nice the NFL and Colts have such regular coverage. Opinions are part of the turf. The best thing we can do is to listen to the voices in our locker room and meetings. Bruce is a talented coach who left for greener pastures. Pep Hamilton is a talented coach who arrived to a greener pasture. We'll be fine. They're both terrific coaches, and Colts fans will like this offense. A "second-year" slump is only a premise or talking point. No such thing is grounded in fact. It wasn't easy for Andrew last year, and this year won't be easy either. Getting to 11 wins is something that can't be worried about either. I think we're better this year and the only way to replicate or surpass last year is by buying in, taking things as they come, staying healthy, eliminating distractions and doing the math at the end. Thanks, as always, for weighing in.
MYLES L. (from Richmond, IN) Has anyone stood out in your eyes at OTAs?**
A: I think a number of guys look good, but I don't want to single any out. The participation level this off-season has been solid, and players are having a good time around each other. To a man, those who have joined us from other teams have commented freely about the great dynamics in the locker room and with the coaches. It starts at the top with Chuck Pagano, and you see guys in shape, learning and working. I know that's not exactly what you're looking for but believe me, fans should see dividends paid because of the atmosphere that is around this bunch. We have eight more OTAs, and hopefully you can come to the practice at Lucas Oil Stadium on June 12 to see your team. You can draw some conclusions at that point.