Colts Mailbag

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Colts Mailbag Weekend Edition: Which Pass Rushers Will Emerge Alongside Robert Mathis?

Intro: In Saturday’s mailbag, readers inquire about playing time for rookie safety T.J. Green, the outlook for fourth-round pick Antonio Morrison and how the offensive line will look under Joe Philbin.

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INDIANAPOLIS – Each week, readers of Colts.com 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).

Thomas G. (Tucson, AZ)

how are you doing this week Mr Bowen?

I just had 2 question about our offensive line and oline coach. I deeply believe by watch a few highlights from a few weeks ago. I like the way Coach Philbin is coaching the offensive line. The way his attitude is. My question is do you think we might have as good of a line as we did in 2009. I believe we had a pretty good line that year and in 2006 but what do you think about our new Oline coach and offensive line?

Bowen: Doing great, Thomas. Trying to enjoy the last free weekend before things really pick up with camp and the season starting. From a talent standpoint, I think you could certainly argue this year's group has more talent. In 2009, the Colts only had two offensive line starters that were even drafted (sixth-round pick LT-Charlie Johnson and fourth-round pick RT-Ryan Diem). This year's starting group could have two first rounders (LT-Anthony Castonzo and C-Ryan Kelly), a second rounder (LG-Jack Mewhort), a third rounder (if Hugh Thornton starts at right guard) and then undrafted RT-Joe Reitz. That's a stark contrast from where the guys in 2009 were selected coming out of college. If that group can mesh like the 2009 contingent did, then it's possible this line makes a serious jump. Joe Philbin of course will play a major role in getting the unit to take such a leap. Any comparison to 2009 (when the Colts allowed a sack on a league-best 2.16 percent of passes) would be an accomplishment for the 2016 bunch.

Matthew H. (Iowa)

It might not be likely for either of these things to happen, but what would you say is more likely? The colts having 3 players with 1,000 receiving yards, or the colts defense being In the top half of the NFL?

Bowen: By far the latter choice under this scenario. We've seen just two teams in the last 20 years have three 1,000-yard seasons. It's not that far fetched for the Colts' defense to finish the year in the NFL's top half for total defense. Just two years ago, the Colts were ranked 11th in total defense. The odds are vastly greater of the second one having a better chance of happening, than three players with at least 1,000 receiving yards.

Philip M. (Bidwell, OH)

Hello Kevin thanks for answering questions an doing the mailbag!!! I love reading an learning about the team!! I have 2 questions for ya. I'm concerned about our pass rush an it's depth of course Robert Mathis is going to be dominant but other then him do you have that can be productive? 2 I just got done watching a couple videos of earl okine an he was a monster in the arena football league do you think he can be as good as Mathis coming into the NFL? Thanks!!

Bowen: Thanks for reading along, Philip. The Colts do need to find some pass rushing depth. Creating pressure from multiple spots would do the entire defense a major favor. I do think it's possible to create this because Mathis is going to warrant some "No. 1 pass rusher" sort of attention from offenses. If teams are throwing another blocker at Mathis, that's going to open things up for guys like Erik Walden, Kendall Langford and Trent Cole. Your second question goes right in line with the first. I can't stress enough how much the Colts would love to have a young pass rusher emerge. Okine falls into that group, along with the rookies---Trevor Bates, Curt Maggitt and Ron Thompson. We still need to see how Okine adjusts to the outside linebacker position, but he did have a nice preseason last year in getting after the quarterback. Comparing Okine to Mathis isn't fair. Mathis is the franchise's all-time sack leader (118.0 career sacks) and a man who will garner Hall of Fame discussion one day. Okine doesn't have an NFL sack.

Luke R. (Rochester, NY)

Hey Kevin,

As the boring part of the Summer continues, I continue to have questions.

  1. What will be the expectations for T.J. Green in terms of development in 2016? Will he be heavily worked on, or become more of a secondary priority rookie? (With work on his tackling and coverage, he can be dangerous)
  1. By the end of this incoming season (Meaning after Week 17), which NFL rookies or sophmores who were previously non-starters, or weren't originally going to start do you suspect will become a full-time starter? (Ex. T.J. Green overtakes Mike Adams, and starts midway through the season)
  1. Would it be a good idea if Hassan Ridgeway started at DT/NT, but becoming more of a rotation lineman with others, rather than full-time starting, due to his injury-prone history?

Bowen: 1. The Colts are going to start Mike Adams and Clayton Geathers at safety this season. Green's rookie-year impact is going to come on special teams. The Colts knew that with Green's inexperience playing safety, there was a developmental period. Green played safety for just two seasons at Clemson (one year as a starter). Now, depending on what Adams does in 2016 (he will be a 36-year-old free agent), Green's role could really change next year. With the NFL trending towards a sideline-to-sideline league, a speedy safety is coveted. Green brings that range and the ability to even match up with tight ends. Again, we probably won't know how valuable Green is in 2016, but his skillset is something defensive coordinators would love to have. 2. Unless an injury occurs, you don't really see guys just simply overtake others (the offensive line being an exception to this last year). Rookies would be the likely group to seize more playing time over the course of a regular season. So maybe an Antonio Morrison, as he gets more reps could see some action. 3. We had an entire question dedicated to Ridgeway below, so head down there for that answer.

Paul C. (Superior, CO)

I think the Colts got a steal snagging Curt Maggitt as a UFA. Is his rehab still on target for full participation when training camp begins?

Bowen: The expectation is for Curt Maggitt to be ready to go for Training Camp. A hip injury to Maggitt last season ended his senior campaign At Tennessee after just two games. As a junior in the SEC, Maggitt had 11.0 sacks. That was more than future top-10 picks Dante Fowler and Leonard Floyd. That production is nothing to turn your head at. It's why Maggitt is my undrafted guy to watch this camp on the defensive side of the ball. The Colts could clearly use a young pass rusher behind the vets (Robert Mathis, Trent Cole and Erik Walden).

Dustin B. (Kings Mountain, NC)

Hi Kevin,

I think the surprise this season will be Hassan Ridgeway. What's your take on Ridgeway? I liked his footage from college. He shows a lot of the same stuff as Bob Sanders. I know that's a far stretch right now but something is gonna click with him. Do you think he will be a star in his rookie year?

Bowen: I'm not sure where the Hassan Ridgeway/Bob Sanders comparison is coming from considering one is a defensive tackle and the other was a safety. So let's just stick with Ridgeway's rookie outlook. I don't think there's a rookie on the roster that could see his playing time fluctuate more depending on health. With Arthur Jones now suspended for the first games of 2016, and Anderson's debut this season in doubt, Ridgeway could be the top defensive line reserve for the first quarter of the season. The staff values the versatility that Ridgeway brings up front. Even when Anderson and Jones return healthy, their early snap counts could lead to some extended reps for the rookie from Texas. Ridgeway is going to have some sort of reserve role in 2016. It's just a little up in the air to how large that role is going to be for the fourth-round pick.

Rico W. (Tulsa, OK)

Kevin, Since we will be the away team playing in Wembley Stadium, I assume the team will wear their white jerseys? Or since this is a notable game, will the team be in their Blue Jerseys?

Thanks, Colts Strong

Bowen: I'd assume white. I haven't seen anything from the Jags on them changing up their "home" jerseys for the London game.

Terry G. (Greenwood, IN)

It's me again Kevin! Hope the golf outing went well! Quick question for you. The more I see of Antonio Morrison the more I like him. Now we all know how guarded coach Pagano is in his pressers. But if memory serves,during his draft presser,coaches face lit up like a school girl when asked about Morrison! Saying he asked Grigson to find him a "Dog"... well I think they have. Do you think the Colts have found some "nasty" at ILB? As always thank you for all the insight! Just a few weeks to go! Already have my first cook out scheduled! Go Colts!!!

Bowen: In the five drafts the Colts have had under this regime, I'm not sure if there's a player the staff has gushed about more than Antonio Morrison, especially considering he was a fourth-round pick. They do love the "dog" in Morrison and the toughness that he brings to the middle of a defense. Now, the problem with projecting Morrison in 2016 is we have barely seen him yet. Morrison tweaked his hamstring on the first day of rookie minicamp, forcing him to sit out the team's offseason program. Jim Irsay believes Morrison is part of the future of this defense. I'm not sure if Morrison will receive enough Training Camp reps to challenge the competition between Nate Irving and Sio Moore. But there's little doubt that Morrison will be getting a chance very soon, particularly with D'Qwell Jackson getting up there in age.

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