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Colts Mailbag Weekend Edition: Should The Colts Tackle During Training Camp?

Intro: In Saturday’s mailbag, readers inquire about the defensive line depth in 2017, projecting the safety depth chart and how many Pro Bowlers the Colts will have this season.


INDIANAPOLIS – Each week, readers of can submit their questions to have a chance of them being answered in our Wednesday or Saturday mailbag.

With the abundance of questions in recent weeks, we will have two mailbags each week. This one comes via a weekend edition (here’s the Wednesday version from this week).

James C. (Northwest, England)

Hi Kevin how are you? It's been a while since my last question.
1- Lets be hypothetical for a minute, say Geathers isn't going to be ready week 1 of regular season. Who takes his place at strong safety? I'd say the front runner is Farley with the amount of reps during mini camp. What do you think?
2- How many players do you think will make the pro bowl from the Colts this year? And if so, who?
Thanks Kevin have a good day.

Bowen: I'm doing great, James. 1. We had this question a little further down in the mailbag. I'm going to go with a Malik Hooker and Darius Butler combination, if Clayton Geathers isn't ready for the start of the season. Remember, if Hooker was healthy during the offseason program, we probably wouldn't have seen Matthias Farley with the first-team defense. 2. Interesting question. I'll go with three Colts on the Pro Bowl team. Give me Andrew Luck, T.Y. Hilton and Ryan Kelly. I see this offense being one of the best in the NFL next year.

Matt H. (Metea, IN)

Greetings Kevin. There seems to be no interest in the media about the Colts having any success this year. Just read an article about the best tandem wide recievers in the NFL. Nothing about the Colts. Andrew Luck is in question for MVP, but is ranked low on the top 100. The ghost is not being mentioned at ALL, even though he is the reigning yardage champ. No talk about Colts players at all. Except for Grigson being hired by the Browns (wonder if the Trent Richardson trade was an inside job for a guaranteed job if he got fired ) just absolute speculation on that. Which brings me to my point, Some people are concerned that the Colts arent getting Pittsburgh, New England, or Raiders kind of press. I find it wonderful actually. The less press, the less expectations, the more motivation for the players and staff to be the surprise team of the year. Any thoughts? Look for Luck to be an MVP contender, I pick Aaron Rodgers. Look for Coach Pagano to be come back coach of the year, and Colts go 13-3 regular season, and Lose AFC championship game. Super Bowl bound next year. Ideas?

Bowen: I'm not surprised the Colts aren't being talked about too much right now. This isn't 2015, where the Colts made a bunch of off-season headlines after making the AFC Championship the year prior. New England, Pittsburgh and Oakland deserve the attention they are getting. The Colts are in a prove it stage here in 2017. I do agree that I think being the hunter instead of the hunted could serve this team well. 13-3 is certainly a lofty prediction. I see the Colts in the double-digit win range though.

Ethan H. (Fort Myers, FL)

Hey Kevin do you think with the young signed players one defense do you think the colts will be the Atlanta Falcons of 2016 on defense in this season?

Bowen: Let's remember, the Atlanta Falcons were not a great defense in 2016. At times, they were a strong unit and certainly complemented their offense enough to have the Super Bowl in one hand for nearly the entire game. What the Colts want to do defensively in following the Falcons' blueprint, is how they are building that side of the ball---get young speed on the field. The Falcons have gotten much younger, and much faster. The Colts are hoping to follow that script. Check out this article for more on this subject.

Tim D. (Ft. Wayne, IN)

Hello Kevin, 
I read with interest the story on Tuesday, on the situation of tackling or not tacking during the upcoming training camp. While I feel. there is no substitute for actually hitting the other guy, to help cut down on possible 'friendly fire' injuries, have the Colts looked into using the new remote controlled tackling dummies that are now being used by some of our competitors?
Thanks for work on keeping us fans updated.

Bowen: We have seen that dummy used at practices, especially during special teams drills. As great as that technology is, you still can't replicate live action of a human being, with NFL athleticism, trying to juke an opponent. It really sounds like Chris Ballard wants to see some tackling in camp. He makes good points in comparing it to boxing. You always fear the friendly fire injuries, of course. But it's sounding like the Colts will be doing some tackling during their 2017 Training Camp.

Jay V. (Slidell, LA)

What's up Kevin!?! Man camp is over and football season can't get here fast enough, sooo looks like I'm going to be bothering for a about a month and a half lol.

Couple questions...
1. In all honesty it truly looks like Geathers is not going to be ready for the season. With that being said, how do feel about Hooker at FS and Butler at SS? I believe thats a no fly zone for offenses trying to go deep, I actually think even when Geathers comes back he should slide into a linebacker type role. With Davis and Wilson on the outside, I think our defense is a turnover machine!

  1. One rookie I haven't really head news on is CB Nate Hairston. How is his progress coming? When you guys have been talking about competition for CB roles, he hasn't been mentioned. Do you see him making the roster? Has he shown anything good? In college he never got beat deep so I thought we would be a contributor to a ball hawking D. Any insight??

Bowen: Haha, I love it, Jay! 1. This is a question I've been thinking about lately. My guess is a combination of Hooker and Butler. While that might lack a real box presence, it greatly improves your ball-hawking ability back there. If/when Geathers gets healthy, Ted Monachino is going to have some real options in how creative he wants to get with his secondary packages. Geathers is such an X-factor for how successful I think the defense can be in 2017. 2. Like Zach Banner and Grover Stewart, we did not see a whole lot of Nate Hairston in the first team during the offseason program. That's not a total surprise to me. I do think Hairston will make the roster. Right now, his role looks to be more special teams to me in his first season. I noticed Hairston a couple of times during the offseason program, but I want/need to see more of him before I project him into any defensive reps. I'm still high on Hairston and think he will get a chance this preseason to push his way up the depth chart.

Eric S. (West Palm Beach, FL)

Hey Kevin,

Hope all is well! First question is does Kevin Bowen get a break before things start to pickup? 

Also if you could pick one rookie drafted after the second round to exceed expecatations and have a big impact in year one. Who would it be. 

I'm not sure of the exact stats on the Colts defense last year, but I believe they were in the bottom of the league in all of them. If you could pick one area between Sacks, Rush Yards per game, pass yards per game, and turnovers. Which would you pick for the Colts defense to become a top ten team?

Bowen: Eric, I appreciate you looking out for me! I will get some time away over the 4th. Also a few days here and there next month. No need to fret will still have ample daily content, and I won't be too far away from the laptop. Onto your questions. Let's go with Marlon Mack. I really want to go with Tarell Basham, but you rarely see rookie pass rushers come in and contribute in a big way from Day One. I just think Mack brings something you've been lacking on offense. That game-breaking speed is too good not to use offensively. With the defensive stats, let's just go with total defense. The Colts were 30th in the NFL in that category last year. I'd be shocked if they didn't climb at least into the 22-24 range. Even that sort of improvement would result in another win or two. I also think the turnovers will rise on defense. Now, if you're asking top ten? I guess I would say turnovers. That number can change in a hurry, especially with all the new personnel in place for 2017. But that's still a lot to ask.

Steve B. (Washington, IN)

kevin, to share a thought concerning a previous report you made per the defensive line with 6 maybe the limit for the 53 man roster.

with that thought in mind, should an injury or 2 occur to one of the six, that would leave only 4 lineman remaining on roster, which would leave the team rather thin come December and January.

with 4 preseason game, 16 regular season games, and hopefully 2, 3, 4 playoff games, depth along the defensive line would be invaluable.

hopefully 7, if not 8 make the roster. it can be managed should the coaches warrant.

the 7 I would consider, with your input from an earlier report of the colts initial 1st team being: Hankins, Parry, Anderson; I would follow this up accordingly - Ridgeway, Woods, Hunt, with Stewart being the 7th man. 

as some others have previously exercised, I could share my thoughts on the 53 man roster having 7 or 8 DL
for what it would be worth.

thank you Kevin for your timely colt updates and news reports.

Bowen: Unfortunately, that's just life of a 53-man roster over the course of a 16-game season. If injuries don't ravage a position or two on the 53-man roster, then the Colts could have room for seven defensive linemen. But the reality of NFL life is that you are going to have to find a guy on the streets at virtually every position group to survive four months of a season. It's going to be really interesting to see how the Colts fill out their defensive line group.

Michael D. (Indianapolis)

Hi Kevin:

Where do the height & weight of players listed on the website roster come from and when do they get updated? It's always interesting to see who gains and who loses. I doubt Andrew is still 240.

Thanks, Mike Duff

Bowen: I don't think there's an exact science to those numbers. I've noticed some guys don't have their numbers change at all (i.e. Robert Mathis has admitted to playing at a much smaller weight than what was listed on the roster). It would be nice to have an exact weigh in at the start of each season, like we see at the NFL Combine. My guess is check back a week or so into Training Camp after guys report and physicals are taken. We might see some changes then.

Zac N. (Indiana)

Hi there Kevin. I have a couple questions that are kind of broad. 1: After just seeing Derek Carr sign an extension paying him $25 million per year, I'm wondering why all these quarterback deals always have to one up the previous quarterback's deal? (i.e. Andrew Luck's). 2. If you could play any sport at the professional level, what would it be and why? 3. Who is your favorite professional athlete to watch across all sports and why?

Bowen: 1. That's the market for NFL contracts. It's how things work. With the cap continuing to rise, contracts are always going to head in that direction as well. 2. Golf. I feel like that would be the life. Not too taxing on your body and you get to travel the world. 3. Well, it's probably not the right time to say this, but it's Tiger Woods. The passion he brought to the game of the golf is the reason why I started playing the sport. I hope Woods is able to steer his life back on course, while also getting healthy to still play the game at a high level.

John O. (Seattle)

Always look forward to this mailbag every week. The questions pouring in are so good. 

Last year some players had mentioned that Coach Pagano didn't push them hard enough. He addressed this by saying some things needed to change on his end. Do you happen to know what coaching strategies he's taken that are different from previous years? In the limited media times you get during the offseason have you personally noted any difference in his coaching style from a distance? I know that last question may be hard to answer, but is there any news as to him pushing guys more than he did last year or carrying around a different demeanor on the field? 

Lastly, the NFL brings out an evaluation of strength of schedule based on last years records - how credible is this in terms of season outcomes the following year? Should there be reason to be optimistic because the colts were ranked weakest schedule for this coming year?

Bowen: With Pagano, it's hard to say we've noticed anything too specific after just a handful of open practice sessions. I know some guys believe offseason practices were a tad more intense this spring. Also, the tackling aspect of Training Camp is a potential change from the norm for Pagano. When Jim Irsay talked about this subject earlier in the offseason, he specifically mentioned shortening the learning curve for young players to get on the field and play early. And then in-season, you have to think starting games better is a major priority. Also, beginning the season better is a must. The Colts are 2-8 in the first two games of the season under Pagano. I wish I had more specifics on this subject, but I feel like we will get some answers in camp and during the preseason. With strength of schedule, those numbers typically don't shift a whole lot. When I look at this year's slate, Arizona and Cincinnati are the two teams I would be worried about getting back to playoff level.

Dennis E. (Sweetser, IN)

I was reading your Wednesday Mailbag and saw the question from Sunil in Houston. Just thinking but couldn't he listen to the colts radio broadcast over the Internet? I think we would all feel something missing if not hearing his excitement and love for the Colts!

Bowen: Colts radio guru Matt Taylor has informed me that those out of town can listen on SIRIUS XM channel 813 or on the Colts Mobile App. So check those out for your game day listening to Bob Lamey and company.

The analysis from those producing content on does not necessarily represent the thoughts of the Indianapolis Colts organization. Any conjecture, analysis or opinions formed by content creators is not based on inside knowledge gained from team officials, players or staff.*

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