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.
JOHN B. (from Fishers, IN) I have a hard time understanding the Colts depth chart on the O-line. It's hard for me to believe Joe Reitz is the seventh-best lineman on the roster. I truly believe he is better than at least two of the starters, and I know he is better than Jeff Linkenbach. He gave up one sack last year and is a better run blocker than at least three of the guys starting. With the struggles the O-line has had, I truly believe he deserves a chance to start or rotate more than he has. Please help me and others understand. The O-line could use Joe right now.
A: Joe is a 17-time starter at left guard. That's where Donald Thomas opened this season and Hugh Thornton has been there since then. Joe showed his versatility at left tackle in preseason, but Anthony Castonzo is playing there. Joe has gotten time in some "jumbo" sets as an extra blocker, and you love his multi-positional value. Has he gotten the playing time he did the last two years? No, but guys like Joe will find their time at some point. All teams can use players like him and Jeff Linkenbach. I don't fault your support of Joe (and for one other who wrote in with the same opinion), and over 16 games I'm sure he will have a chance to contribute. There are a lot of players on the team who have the "right stuff," and Joe is one of them. I assure you the coaches are doing what they think is best, and Chuck Pagano said this week that every area is being looked at to make sure we're giving ourselves the best chance to win. Thanks for supporting Joe. I know he appreciates it.
RON H. (from Delphi, IN) Why haven't the Colts put Trent Richardson in as a slot receiver just to get him out from behind the offensive line and give him a chance in the open field?
A: I don't know that putting Trent in the slot is the right approach, but getting him isolated a bit more is something we should do. Trent has obvious talents beyond the backfield, and he has proven to be a capable receiver. That is one reason we got him, and I think he's poised for some big contributions. We're not going to stop trying to find ways to use him and with seven games left, there is a lot of opportunity. He feels he has adapted to the passing game concepts well by now. He's been targeted eight times in the last two games. I hope there's more.
JOSH G. (from Indianapolis) What are the chances of seeing a two running back set with both Donald Brown and Trent Richardson in the backfield? Brown has proven that if he has a little space he's going to pick up a lot of yards. Richardson seems to get swallowed up by other teams' defenses because they send all of their (players) after him. Richardson doesn't have a chance. I'd like to see us fake a handoff to Richardson and when all of the other teams' linebackers bite on him, pass it to Brown on the other side of the field with nobody in front of him. If they do cover Brown, than Richardson has a little more room to run.**
A: Thanks for the input. Seeing them together in the backfield is an interesting thought, but not one I think we'll see. Donald has had some real burst this year, and five catches Sunday and a nifty TD move was a boost. Trent had three receptions and has 20-plus-yard receptions in consecutive games (with good yards after the catch). We need committee contributions to overcome the loss of Reggie Wayne. Their help can only be a big boost to Andrew.
GREG S. (from Indianapolis) I think all of the Trent Richardson detractors should reserve judgment until the end of the season. I am also not 100% pleased with his output to this point, but it should be mentioned that he is getting mostly first- and second-down runs in 21 or 22 formations and the line has not blocked well. I am concerned about his vision in the hole as he sometimes seems to make the wrong read taking him out of some big gains. I like Donald Brown, but his runs are primarily in spread formations or on draws giving him more openings. I would like to see Pep use more spread for Trent and use him more in the passing game. He just needs to get in space and he will do fine.
A: Thanks for your insights and even-keeled support. Losing two backs early hurt us to a degree, and using now what is a third 1-2 RB combination is a challenge many teams have not had. We are doing our best to thrive in the situation. To some that may seem to be a spin job, but there is so much more to it that people should realize. Pep and the coaches will keep pounding on ways to get the running game back to the level we had early in the season. The last six quarters have been very tough in that regard. Converting third downs and extending drives would stop the tilted scoreboards we've had lately. Chuck said getting back to like we were running earlier is a priority. It's all about proper execution.
NIKOLAS W. (from Springfield, MA) Do you think Da'Rick Rogers will get a chance to play? (David Reed has only been used for returns so we basically have four receivers.)
A: We elevated Da'Rick to the active roster on Monday, so you could get your wish. Da'Rick has been here since September and has a good working knowledge of the offense (an eight on a 10-point scale in his opinion). We're two games into playing without Reggie Wayne, and it's a challenge that still remains as crunch time is coming. David was in action last Sunday on offense, and we need as many viable options possible to help Andrew and the rushing game. Da'Rick could be a help, maybe this week. He's a big target.
JEFF C. (from Charlotte, NC) I was watching some of the Locker Talk videos and noticed a sign reading "Locker not to be used unless approved by Coach Pagano" posted behind some of the players. I know Coach has the players arranged differently than most teams (for example not having all the O-linemen together in one spot) but what's the deal with the sign?
A: There are only a certain number of lockers around, and some need to remain open for fluid situations like roster changes. Keeping unused lockers neat also lightens the load for the attendants since the room gets congested quickly. It is a well-run locker room with, as you said, position groups being interspersed so guys can get to know teammates they normally don't see in positional meetings. You like a coach who is doing things like Chuck is doing. His way breeds a good locker room.
MAURICE G. (from Cleveland, MS) These Colts remind me so much of the 1995 team that made me a Colts fan! Do you see any similarities between the two? Also, "Comeback Kid" would be a great title for Andrew Luck.
A: That 1995 team (click here to review that year) had the ability to comeback from ridiculous deficits and keep focus. It also was very, very close top-to-bottom on the playing and coaching roster, perhaps the best I've ever seen. That team always stuck in my mind for its playing nature and camaraderie, plus it had very infectious leaders in Ted Marchibroda and Jim Harbaugh. For someone outside our area, you are very astute in this observation. There are a lot of the same qualities between that team and this one. Unity and the direction of Chuck Pagano and Andrew Luck are two reasons we are winning but like that 1995 team, there are many more. As you know, Andrew played for Harbaugh, and Jim was one of the reasons Andrew went to Stanford. I hope we don't keep calling on Andrew's comeback abilities. The nickname you propose fits, and it's an appropriation of Harbaugh's, "Captain Comeback." We got to the AFC title game with the 1995 team. I'd settle for that right now, as long as we could re-write the ending in Pittsburgh. Thanks for a fun letter. Long-time Colts fans probably enjoyed that 1995 team a lot, too. It certainly is one of my favorites over 29 years here.
REMY G. (from Los Angeles, CA) When are we going to wear our throwback all white jerseys, with the two horseshoes on the back of the helmet?
A: I love the throwback look you bring up again. We've done it three times. The fourth would have to be in a future season. There are no plans this year. It's a sweet look.
DICK R. (from Indianapolis) My question concerns Josh Chapman. Prior to the season, we read a lot about him. Since the season started, there has not been much written about him. Is he having trouble coming back from his injury? Is he about where the coaches thought he would be? Since he is a (second-year player), is he still adjusting to the NFL.
A: Josh is battling a bone bruise in his knee, the same one he had worked on at Alabama, but there seems to be no connection. When it happened is a bit of a mystery. There are no real concerns beyond that, and he should be ready for Tennessee. He is contributing and doing well in our rotations. Remember, we added some veterans in free agency that were fluent already with the scheme. Their presence has helped Josh grow.
ANDREW M. (from Portland, OR) As Colts fan living in the Northwest, it has been tough to watch the games live, but I never make it a week without watching. I do get a little starved for news, though. Can you recommend some Indy area writers to follow? Thanks a million!
A: I'd just advise to check our site. We provide pretty good coverage. There are other writers who cover us but being fond of them, I don't want to single out any in particular.
JORDAN L. (from Indianapolis) Wanted to say I loved the way you "tackled" the "tap-dancing" question in the 11/6 mailbag. I loved the way you stuck up for the coaches and yourself in the process. I think this team should have earned some positive thoughts by now. The first Colts game I ever saw was January 16, 2000. I have only missed a handful of games since then, and I agree that this team has more GRIT than any I've seen. Indy should be extra appreciative of our coaching staff and locker room right now, considering all the hazing and bullying that is being discussed in other places around the NFL. (I have) complete faith, and what a game by Pat Angerer (at Houston), credit Coach Manusky for anticipating the bootleg that halted the Texans late in the fourth quarter. Colts Strong!
A: It was a matter for sticking up for our coaches who are talented and who do great jobs. People don't know the many contributions coaches make daily and for how they shape players on and off the field. We've had a couple of lulls this year (last Sunday was one), but we've met quite a few challenges. Last week was not a matter of competing. We did for 60 minutes, but we need to do it better. We'll pull through. It's been our nature, and our coaches will be ones who help us do it again. As for Pat, he's personifies the grit you mention. He had two huge plays late in that game.
TIM D. (from Camby, IN) With T.Y Hilton and Andrew becoming more of a dynamic duo, are there any concerns with Hilton doing returns on special teams and the chance of him getting hurt? I know during the Houston game Trent Richardson showed a lot of potential catching and running in the open. Any thought of making him the returner?**
A: There are no concerns at all about T.Y. on special teams. He is a play-maker who can flip the field in the blink of an eye. He's done it before, and we will keep him in the return game. Chuck Pagano says T.Y. wouldn't have it any other way and knows how to protect himself. Richardson does have some untapped ability in the passing game, but putting him on returns would not be playing to his skill set. You never put a player in the position to do something like that if it's not an established strength of his.
TODD J. (from Indianapolis) I would like to say that I still love the Richardson trade and think that he is going to be great. Are going to start having him in more scenarios? It seems whenever Trent runs, it's always extremely obvious and that he will run write up the middle. I think if we mix up the running plays he's in, it would keep the defense honest. I love the backfield passes, I just think we need to mix up his runs a bit. A lot of people have been complaining about DHB's dropped passes, but it seems that most of the time it is on a long ball. The past couple of games, he lined up in the slot and seemed to be much more productive than running up the sideline. Will we see more of that, or will he stay outside?
A: Thanks for sharing your opinion, and it's matched by many. Trent is responsible for a bunch of mailbag questions because people like you want to see him succeed. We'll keep working on ways to pop him free. We've only had a small look (two games) at the offense without Reggie Wayne. All three of the leading receivers have spent time in the slot. I'm not sure that's the best spot for DHB, but we'll see. We are all curious, and we need steady contributions from him. Not much of an answer, but I know you and I will be among many watching who slides in there the most.
DEVON K. (from Indianapolis) When will Ahmad Bradshaw be returning? Next year, right? I know many people including myself want to see more Donald Brown. What will the return of Bradshaw mean for Brown? Thanks!
A: For Ahmad, it is a matter of getting healthy. It was a one-year contract he signed here. As for Donald, he has been very productive this year and is one of our best-prepared, most-selfless performers. Unless I'm mistaken, this is the final year of his contract, too. This is not the forum for me really to speculate any further. I know the club does the best it can to keep rosters intact, and you want players who contribute to the culture in a positive way. Both Ahmad and Donald are culture-contributors and on-field producers. The most important thing is to play well this year and let 2014 take care of 2014. I've always been a fan of Donald's, and it was good to see Ahmad pop into practice yesterday. He looked good and was in good spirits.
I.J. G. (from Ohio) I was so excited when we got Trent Richardson from the Browns but after seven games, I feel we got burned for giving up a first-round pick. What do you think?
A: We didn't get burned by any means. To me, this seems like a win-win for both teams, with full dividends being paid in future seasons. That's not to say Trent won't be a factor this year, but there could be a bigger impact when he has the full off-season to immerse himself.
ZACH W. (from Milwaukee, WI) Longtime reader of and first time submitter to the mailbag. The analysis of Adam Vinatieri's quarterbacks over the years was great of you to share with us fans. My favorite part of that post was the fact that you omitted 2011 as if it never happened. I, for one, will always remember Painter and Collins fondly because Andrew Luck would not be here without them. Thanks for sharing, Craig. Go Blue!
A: Thanks for submitting. Keep it up. The question did not really pertain to Curtis, Kerry and Dan Orlovsky, and I only included Drew Bledsoe because Adam (click here) is so praiseworthy of him. I thought about what you mentioned before I posted it, and it was not any form of shot at those three players. I remember them for being good guys and doing all they could in a tough year here. All of them were stand-up guys. I wish Curtis and Dan could have a nice portion of the success Kerry had in his career.
BRENT R. (from Westville, IL) I was hoping that maybe you could tell us what is going on with Khaled Holmes? I would think that Holmes would have had ample opportunity to work his way into some playing time. We all know that the Colts understand that protecting the franchise (Luck) is of utmost importance, and we all know that this year's offensive line has been one in flux. So what's the deal?
A: While Khaled lost a great deal of training camp time with an ankle injury, he is developing and capable of going in and being productive in Chuck Pagano's estimation. He said Khaled's time has just not come at this point. Should an injury occur and it's best to play him, Khaled would be ready.
SUNIL A. (from Houston, TX) Since T.Y. Hilton is emerging clearly as the leading receiver, is he still going to have the duty of punt returns? Is Trent Richardson going to be more involved in the passing plays in the future? He showed in the Houston game that he can catch long passes and run fast to gain substantial yardage. With his strong physique, he can create mismatches with most of the defensive backs in the NFL.
A: T.Y. still will be handling the punt returns. With his talent, you really want him touching the ball in those situations. Chuck Pagano said last week even T.Y. would balk if there were a thought to change things. Trent can be a big boost to the passing game. Pep Hamilton will not stop figuring out ways to use his ability. I think that is an untapped area for us to explore. I like his yards after the catch, too.
ISAK H. (from Mexico City, Mexico) At this point Coby Fleener is the only true first-string experienced TE. Would the team consider signing Kevin Boss? By the way, could you tell us how Dwayne Allen is doing?
A: Coby is a solid talent for us, and I think you are overlooking Wes Saunders and Jack Doyle. They both are good for our system. They would not be here if they weren't legit. As for Dwayne Allen, he is doing well in his rehab. He's around here almost daily and looks good. There will be many bright days for him.
BOB M. (from Milwaukee, WI) There obviously are not enough quality QB's to go around. What's the population of the Western World and there are not 32 competent men to play QB? What an elite status Andrew has achieved!
A: It's the most difficult position in sports in the opinion of many, including me, and it comes in the greatest team sport. We have an elite talent as you mention. Let's just enjoy and be happy we aren't on the search. Prior to Andrew and Peyton, we were hunting for a number of years. It's not a fun hunt, and we were doing so while facing Dan Marino and Jim Kelly in the division.
CAROL H. (from undisclosed) Pierre Garcon is doing a fabulous job for the Redskins. Why isn't he still a Colt? T.Y. Hilton can't do it all!
A: While you would not mind having Pierre here in the least, we had to make our own financial decisions on players to retain. I don't think you would object to our keeping Reggie Wayne and Robert Mathis in 2012. When you make those choices, the salary cap means you will lose players to other teams (David Thornton was a tough loss in 2006). Pierre was a great player for us. You wish you could keep all the players you cultivate as an organization, but that is not the nature of the business. You have to make tough choices and sometimes see players like Pierre and Tim Jennings go on and play well elsewhere. You tip your cap to them and wish them well, but we made great choices with Reggie and Robert. Good question, Carol, and another reader posed it this week, too.
JOHN M. (from Brazil, IN) Why don't the Colts create plays where Andrew Luck can roll out of the pocket? Seems like that would give them options for him to run or pass, especially when he is getting so much pressure
A: Andrew gets out there on his own when he has to, but the design of the offense is not what you describe. Andrew is gifted at extending plays and creating stress points on a defense with his mobility, but we think we are better suited when he is throwing, not running (so does he). Longevity and success in the league is the goal, and we are using him the way we should.
DONNIE C. (from Colorado Springs, CO) What kind of influence has Andrew Luck been on his fellow team members in comparison to Peyton Manning?
A: I don't think he could be any greater influence than he is, and he is as effective as any QB can be. Players trust him on and off the field. That's something earned and not given. He is an outstanding presence in the locker room, another critical factor, and his work ethic is exemplary. He has every tangible and intangible that great QBs have. I could go on and on with examples but suffice to say, he has 'it,' and in abundance.
JIM H. (from Pittsford, NY) I would like to see a breakdown of both the Colts and their opponents scoring by each quarter. I have been hearing that the Colts have given up few points in the fourth quarter this season, but I can't seem to find that statistic anywhere.
A: Here is the club's scoring by quarter: First-37; Second-76; Third-50; Fourth-59. Here is our opponents' scoring by quarter: First-64; Second-62; Third-38; Fourth-29. If you check our website by Tuesday afternoon of a game week, that week's press release about the game has a stat sheet where you can check this.
ALYSSA E. (from Reno, NV) I am planning for my boyfriend's birthday next year, and he is a huge Colts fan. I really want to get him tickets to go see a home game. I am trying to surprise him but because it is so far in advance and the NFL schedule is not out yet, it is a little harder than I had imagined. When exactly is the schedule released and where's the best place to purchase tickets? I really want to make this birthday the best he has ever had. Thanks!
A: The schedule will not come out until about mid-April next year. Until then, it is impossible to know the dates of any games. You will have to wait until then, and then I suggest you consult our site, www.colts.com, for the best ticket information. You'll have to be patient until then.
M. P. (from Charlotte, NC) That was just ridiculous, losing to the Rams as if they still had Marshall Faulk and Kurt Warner. No defense, no offense. Sure we still lead the division, but what kind of team wants to be content with the way things are going, depending on Luck for a comeback, as if he is the only player on the team? Last week you said it's too soon to think about the offseason, no it's not. We still need a lot of pieces.
A: The only way we'd need a bunch of new pieces is if we weren't thinking about Tennessee first and then the six games beyond that. Next year is not a thought (and I doubt a regular contributor like you is throwing it in either). No one was content with that performance, and the struggles we had at San Diego and in the first half against Houston need correcting. We know that. You know that. You show the emotions a lot of our fans have shown, and that's understandable. We just have to go back to work and do what has gotten us six wins. A two-game lead over Tennessee and a chance to play them Thursday is only what matters.
ED K. (from Wisconsin) I've been a Colts fan since being born in Baltimore 68 years ago and love the Colts. I would love to read your comments about the game against the Rams. We paid a lot of money for players on the O-line to open holes for the run game and to protect Andrew. You cannot tell me they have done that all year. I hope they make some changes in the O-line for the Thursday night game. The defense needs help as well. HELP IS NEEDED.
A: In those years, you've seen many Colts teams bounce back after rough outings. The St. Louis game was a very rough one, our most one-sided home loss since 1993. You've seen bounce backs from us in years that went on to produce playoff appearances (ie: 2006 when we lost three-of-five to end the year before winning Super Bowl XLI). We're not playing like we want or are capable of. Chuck said this week, and I've mentioned it earlier, that everything is being done to correct the recent problems. We just have to execute.
JASON Y. (from Palm Springs, CA) I am a huge fan of the Colts. I really like what the front office and all of coaches have done with Building the Monster. There is only one part I am concerned/worried about. Why is David Reed taking these kicks out of the end zone? The more important question may be what does Reed bring to the team other than kick returns that don't make it to the 20? I realize there could be things we can't see on a TV broadcast that would explain these concerns. Thanks in advance for your answers.
A: Chuck said yesterday that while St. Louis did a good job of disguising the direction of its kicks, we need do a better job of communication on the return unit and reign in competitive juices with discretion. He said David, among others, may have been pressing and it led to situations that did not help the team with field position. What you saw on TV is what we saw. We've addressed it among other concerns and aim to correct it quickly. We have a solid special teams coach in Tom McMahon, and we know the importance in winning every phase of special teams play.
RON M. (from Fort Myers, CA) Why can't we receive more of the Colts' games in Florida? I lived in Indianapolis for 30 years and am a devout Colts fan. They show other games, but not hardly any Colts games.
A: With three teams in Florida, you're going to be getting a large dose of those teams unless you subscribe to special package. That's totally your call. When we do well, our games go to a larger percentage of the country, but that still might not help you. We'll do things on our end to be as attractive to our network partners as possible. Tomorrow's game is the fourth national one we've had this year. We got so many this year because of last year's team and the budding star power of some players.
HOWARD P. (from Kokomo, IN) I have a very direct question. I couldn't believe it in week one, and after nine games I still don't understand. Why isn't Joe Reitz playing? The only reason seems to be pride from management. Joe started at LG for two seasons and was getting better and better. (He) only gave up one sack all last year, yet they play three people management brought in thinking they would be better. The OL has issues and Joe Reitz deserves a spot on the line. I think he should be put back at LG. I'd love to know why the Colts feel he is better on the bench. This isn't just about him being a kid from Indianapolis, this is about playing your best five linemen.A: You made your point, and I included it even though we mentioned Joe earlier in the mailbag. I don't buy the pride angle you offered. Joe is a terrific guy and good player. I know why he is popular with fans (and not just from this area). Thanks for writing.
TERRANCE W. (from Memphis, TN) Are we going look into signing a WR in free agency? T.Y Hilton needs some help tremendously!
A: We brought up Da'Rick Rogers from the practice squad. He's been involved with our practices for a couple of months and has an understanding level of the offense from reps with our quarterbacks. He will provide us a new body and hopeful different dimension. Working in someone from the outside at this point and getting production would be difficult.
LUIS M. (from Tucson, AZ) Oakland's QB worked our defense, Texans QB worked our defense, and Rams QB worked our defense. How is it that our defense can't shut them down, but yet we shut down QBs that are beasts like Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson and Peyton Manning? Are they overlooking them? I'm confused with the play of the Colts.
A: Luis, if I or anybody had a snap answer for that…. We don't take anyone lightly and the fact that some of our better days have come against QBs some would consider elite shows what we are capable of. That said, it's weekly execution because there is talent everywhere, whether it's Terrelle Pryor, Case Keenum, Kellen Clemens or Ryan Fitzpatrick. Down performances aggravate everyone, and it's about performing 60 minutes 16 times. It's our target after some performances that haven't pleased us.
BRIAN D. (from Avon, IN) Good Luck Colts! Let's get this game and keep looking forward. How much playing time do you anticipate Da'Rick Rogers getting? Where will he be on the depth chart?
A: Thanks for the support, and I bet all of this week's contributors feel the same way after we played the way we played last week. We haven't lost any of our big-picture goals at this point. Whether Da'Rick is active tomorrow night or not, we'll have to see. He's in the mix with our five other guys. It's hard to know the pecking order top to bottom. Suffice to say, we need everyone as we continue games without Reggie.
WILLIS L. (from Houston, TX) What player do you enjoy to write about the most?
A: Good question to end with this week. While some players through their positions and achievements get great attention and you write about them frequently, you do try to learn all the guys in a locker room. There are more stories there than you can ever write about, and you try to know something about each guy. I don't want to single out any players, though. It would be unfair and too difficult. When you do get to write about guys who are performing near the top of their positions historically (ie: Manning, Wayne, Harrison, Vinatieri, Hinton, Mathis, Freeney, Faulk, Dickerson, James) you love doing so because for how they've contributed to the game and what they mean to Colts fans. We try to position as many guys as you can so fans like you can learn them, too. The benefit of doing that came through last year when we had a reunion and I spent time with two guys who were here long ago – Aaron Bailey and Tony Walker. I hadn't seen either in years. It was good to see Aaron doing well and handling himself with ease when the topic of the last play of the AFC title game in Pittsburgh comes around. He does it with class. I also asked Tony (a backup LB/special teamer here from 1990-93) if he still sang and played the trumpet. His wife, who I never had met, was floored that I remembered that about him after 20 years. Those are reasons you try to know as many guys as you can. I'm guilty sometimes of not doing it, but you owe it to Colts fans to try to tell as many stories as you can. Thanks for writing and asking a fun question.