INDIANAPOLIS — Each week, Colts.com readers can submit their questions to have a chance of them being answered in our Mailbag series.
Missed out on the party this week? Not a problem — you can submit your question(s) for next time by clicking here.
Let’s jump right into this week’s questions:
» Steve P. (University Place, Wash.): “Colts fan since 1958. What's the lastest news on wr Cain and his rehab, will he be ready OTA/training camp. It's all colts for me!!!”
Walker: Hey Steve, thanks for sticking with the Colts all these years. There hasn’t really been any sort of official update on Cain since he suffered his season-ending torn ACL in Indy’s preseason opener against the Seattle Seahawks. I have had the chance to talk with Cain here and there since that time, however, and he seems to be doing well with his recovery and rehab work. I will offer this: general manager Chris Ballard has pointed to about a nine-month milestone most players reach after undergoing ACL surgery where they can usually, at the very least, start to work their way back to the practice field. So nine months after Aug. 9 — the date Cain suffered his torn ACL — is May 9, 2019. Following this schedule, Cain could very well be ready for some sort of on-field work with the team by the time OTAs get started in mid-May. So, to me, Cain should theoretically be completely good to go by the start of training camp. Stay tuned for any updates this offseason, however.
» Jake H. (Fort Stewart, Ga.): “After seeing Ryan Kelly, Dontrelle Inman, and Mo Allie-Cox return to practice, I am just wondering the chances of them playing this Sunday. Thank You for all the information you provide us.”
Walker: Jake, I really appreciate the kind words. And I’ve got good news: it seems like all three — Ryan Kelly, Dontrelle Inman and Mo Alie-Cox — should be good to go Sunday against the Cowboys. Those three players didn’t even have a questionable/doubtful/out status attached to them for the game when that list was released on Friday, so that’s usually a clear indicator that they’re good to go. When it comes to Kelly and Alie-Cox, specifically, I’d expect them to have a major influence on the Colts’ run game, which hasn’t been as consistent as they would like with both of those players out of the lineup in recent weeks. And Inman, obviously, just provides another solid, dependable option in the passing game for Andrew Luck, who will need all the help he can get against a talented Dallas defensive secondary.
» Richard C. (Springfield, Mo.): “What is your preference at kickoff? Receive or defer?”
Walker: Personally, it doesn’t matter to me, although I can definitely see the value of wanting the ball coming out of halftime if you’re an NFL head coach. So that’s not very helpful, but let me give you some info from this season: the Colts are 2-4 in games in which they won the opening coin toss. In fact, their two wins only came recently — Week 11 against the Tennessee Titans and Week 12 against the Miami Dolphins. In all of those games, the Colts elected to defer until the second half and get the ball to start the third quarter. So that means the Colts are 5-2 when they lose the opening coin toss and get the ball first. It’s probably too small of a sample size to work off of at this point, but it’s all interesting nonetheless.
» Mary H. (Martinsville, Ind.): “Which Colts players will be free agents at the end of the current season?”
Walker: Great topic to cover real quick with the regular season’s end right around the corner. According to Spotrac.com, here are the Colts’ unrestricted free agents heading into this upcoming offseason:
• CB Pierre Desir
• S Clayton Geathers
• G Mark Glowinski
• LB Najee Goode
• WR Ryan Grant
• TE Ryan Hewitt
• DT Margus Hunt
• WR Dontrelle Inman
• S Mike Mitchell
• G Matt Slauson
• K Adam Vinatieri
• T J’Marcus Webb
• DT Al Woods
Here are the team’s pending restricted free agents:
• C Josh Andrews
• G Evan Boehm
• S Matthias Farley
• CB Chris Milton
• S Corey Moore
• LS Luke Rhodes
• WR Chester Rogers
• TE Ross Travis
• RB Jonathan Williams
Here are the team’s pending exclusive rights free agents:
• WR Daurice Fountain
• WR Marcus Johnson
• QB Brad Kaaya
• S Ronald Martin
• WR Zach Pascal
» Chase R. (Buffalo, N.Y.): “Hi Andrew, I have a fill in the blank question for you: The Colts will beat the Cowboys if they __. Thanks.”
Walker: Chase: the Colts will beat the Cowboys if they … have more points than them at the end of the game. Sorry; couldn’t resist. For real, though, I think it all comes down to the run game, and on both sides of the ball. Defensively, if the Colts can slow down the league’s leading rusher, Ezekiel Elliott, and force quarterback Dak Prescott to continually have to try to push the ball down the field via the pass, then, theoretically, that should work out in Indy’s favor. Here it is: the Cowboys are 6-1 when they have a 100-yard rusher in 2018, and 2-4 when they don’t. Pretty crystal clear there. And, simply put, Indy needs to get back to some sort of consistent success running the ball on its end, too. I’m not saying the Colts need to be running wild for 200 yards a game like they did in consecutive weeks against the Buffalo Bills and the Oakland Raiders earlier this season, but, in my mind, they need 120, 130 rushing yards so that the mere threat of the run game can help open things up in the pass game even more. We’ll see how these themes end up playing out, however.
» Ta’riq Thomas (Warrington, Penn.): “With Jack Doyle being down for the rest of the season, and some of our other TEs hurt, do you think bringing Coby Fleener back would help our chances on winning out and hopefully making a playoff run? I would love to see him back in blue! ”
Walker: Hey Ta’riq, I really don’t see that happening — especially now. Consider this: Jack Doyle was placed on injured reserve on Nov. 26. That was 19 days ago. The team has had nearly three weeks to sign a guy like Fleener, and hasn’t done it. So I’d say that ship has already sailed. If/when I’m wrong on this, I’ll own it.
» Randy H. (West Des Moines, Iowa): “Hey Andrew good work as always, my question is what's the future for Jacoby Brisset? I get that it's good to have him around this year in case something unthinkable happened to Luck, but can we keep him on the sidelines next year as well. Don't you think he's worth a 1st or 2nd round pick in a trade?”
Walker: Randy, buddy, thanks for the kind words. And this is one of the more interesting storylines for me entering the offseason. It sounds obvious, but we can all see the value of quality quarterback play, and there should be many teams looking to find a long-term starter at the position heading into 2019. The Colts are very fortunate that they have two starter-caliber quarterbacks in Andrew Luck and Jacoby Brissett. On one hand, Brissett has been an extremely valuable member in the quarterbacks’ meeting room and on the practice field — simply put, his presence is very, very valuable. His attitude and his leadership is also contagious, and you can clearly see the effect on this year’s team. But, on the other hand, Brissett has a ton of potential value out on the market, especially as he enters the last year of his rookie contract in 2019. I’m not going to get into what he might or might not be worth, but as Chris Ballard always says, “We’re always looking to improve our team.” So will he get an offer he just can’t resist? If not, Brissett will continue to be a valued member of the Colts’ roster.
» Kevin B. (Connersville, Ind.): “Two questions: Injury reports often list players as not practicing "not injury related." Can you shed light on that? Also, can you tell us more about Denzelle Good's release? And about his story in general. We know he was a starter until the week his brother was tragically murdered. He never seemed to get back on the team after that. He was one of the players who didn't play under the designation "not injury related." Why was he released? Did the loss of his brother affect his will to compete? Sad story.”
Walker: Hey Kevin, let me address your first question. “Not Injury Related” can mean all kinds of things, so I’ll put it this way: if a player doesn’t have a specific injury or an illness, then teams will oftentimes list them as “Not Injury Related” when they miss a practice. Sometimes, like anybody else, players need to tend to personal matters away from the field. And, really, I don’t have much light to shed on Denzelle Good’s release. Personally, Good was always one of my favorite players to talk to in the locker room; I felt like he was always honest and available. I also sympathized with Good in a way, because it seemed like every time he was getting a shot as a starter, something happened, whether it was an injury or, as we learned, the tragic passing of his brother. You can read more about that by clicking here, but for now, let’s just wish Good best of luck with his new team, the Oakland Raiders — in fact, he just earned his first start with the team last week in its big win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
» Fawaz T. (Avon, Ind.): “Hello Andrew, I just wanted to say thanks for doing the mailbag. It is an article that I read every week. My wife and I are foster parents and I was really happy to see Chris Ballard show some appreciation for foster families and of course the kids in the system at this past colts training camp. The kids in the system do not have a lot of positive role models so its great to see Chris and the Irsay family recognize this. My question is will there be any more events focused on the foster care network in Indiana? Specifically Marion County. We recently took in a young man that is a huge colts fan.I would really like to encourage his passion for the game and the players in hopes that he might find some happiness. And some positive role models.”
Walker: I will definitely pass this along, Fawaz, and if I hear anything I will definitely let you know. I know this is a topic very near and dear to Chris and Kristin Ballard’s hearts. Also, thanks for all you’re doing as a foster parent. Thanks to my stepmother, I have seen first-hand the effects a positive, healthy environment can have on kids in foster care, so kudos to you!