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Colts Mailbag

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Colts Mailbag Weekend Edition: Will Stephen Morris Push Scott Tolzien For Backup Quarterback?

Intro: In Saturday’s mailbag, readers inquire about the future of Vontae Davis in Indianapolis, how the Colts will use their running backs in 2017 and the latest with free agent linebacker Zach Orr.


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).

Adam A. (Stevens Point, WI)

Hey Kevin, looking at the OLB/CB depth worries me. Do you see the colts making another big signing/Trade that would bring in a potential starter or more depth?

Bowen: Big signings/trades usually don't come this time of year. The major action in player acquisition is all but over for the NFL season. You might see an occasional move here or there, and certainly some moves will come at the end of the preseason, but likely nothing significant enough to bring in a starter. I actually think the Colts have their starters at outside linebacker in Jabaal Sheard and John Simon. At corner, Vontae Davis is a definite starter. The Colts are expected to go with Rashaan Melvin or Quincy Wilson at the other corner spot. It was a major personnel shift on defense in 2017. Obviously not all needs could be taken care of, but I think the Colts are okay at those positions in order to make the necessary defensive improvements in Year One of the retooling.

Ryan B. (Cheshire, UK)

Hi Kevin, hope your summer is going well! Reading this twice a week is getting me really pumped up for the new season. Can't wait for Week 1! 

Firstly, I've seen a few early mock drafts for next year, in which most are signalling for us to take a RB round 1. Admittedly, with Gore out of contract next season, it could be high on our radar, but I believe our defensive rebuild is far from over. LB for Round 1 for me.

Secondly, I have a bit of a dillema. The Rams and Cardinals play in Week 3 in London, which my family and I are going to. I think I'm going to wait until the Colts play both teams Week 1 and 2 to decide who to support. 

Finally, do you think Vontae Davis will be given a multi-year extension or a one year deal based on how he plays this year?

Thanks for doing this every week!! GO COLTS!!

Bowen: Same to you, Ryan. 1. Yep, I'm with you there. Running back is a need again in 2018. However, it's definitely not above linebacker on the priority list. 2. I think that's a smart decision. If you're looking for Colts' specific ties to those teams, it's hard not to go with the Cardinals. What Bruce Arians did for the Colts in 2012 should not be forgotten. If you're a Colts fan, I'd probably side with the Cardinals. 3. Great, great question. If I'm Davis, I'm seeking a multi-year deal as my one final (major) pay day in the NFL. Davis is 29 years old, so he has to know that his days of signing another major contract are dwindling. For the Colts, it's all going to depend on the type of Davis they see this season. If the Colts do let Davis walk, cornerback once again becomes a major need next offseason.

Justin R. (Orlando)

Hey Kevin, as I've seen in the past mailbags there have been a lot of questions about where Hankins will be lining up on the d line, my question is if there's a chance we will see Grover Stewart lined up at nose tackle while Hankins is a defensive tackle? I ask because he is listed at 6' 4", and around 330 lbs which I feel is an ideal interior d lineman, your thoughts?

Bowen: I wouldn't say in the starting lineup. Grover Stewart's rookie outlook is not clear to me. I really like Stewart. But I'm not sure exactly where he fits in as a rookie. Part of the reason is because this is a guy coming from Division II to the trenches of professional football. Stewart as a nose tackle makes a lot of sense to me, but I do think he has the ability to play a little bit around the d-line, too. I'm eager to see Stewart in camp and the preseason.

Jay T. (Edinburg, TX)

Just simple, we all know the o-line did better 2nd half the of the season, but wondering where did the o-line rank compared to the other teams considering that 2nd half and well the different rank from our 1st and 2nd half of the season.

Bowen: The Colts allowed 11 sacks over the final eight weeks of the season. Only four teams allowed fewer than that. I think that's a major reason why Chris Ballard walked into this situation and felt pretty good about the future of the offensive line.

Ron H. (Newark, DE)

Hi Kevin,

Once again, thank you for conducting the mailbag and I am taking the NFLPA Agent Contract Administration exam next week so we may actually meet one day! 

My question this time is regarding how our offense will look early on. I remember a while back Peyton said he thinks the sweet spot for a QB is that 31-33 passing attempts per game since that range is where he said he felt the best and performed the best. Luck has been taking much more attempts than that since being a Colt. With his injury, the need for him to recover fully, and the need for him not to stress his shoulder too much when he first comes back. Do you think with our diverse and capable backfield we will see our offense emphasize more on running the ball and utilizing our HBs in the short passing game (swings and screens) to take stress off of Luck?

Bowen: Ron, that's awesome! Good luck with that. This is a good question. Luck has averaged 37 attempts per game in his first five seasons. Now, that number is largely dictated by pace of game and what the scoreboard is showing. The Colts have struggled to consistently control games from the onset. If that changes, which it should with better defensive play and a more reliable run game behind an improved offensive line, then Luck's attempts should begin to decrease. I could see more involvement in shorter routes to try and use the athletic ability of guys like Donte Moncrief and Marlon Mack, for example. But once Luck is full-go, the Colts have to know that (if they need it), he can sling it 40-plus times in a game.

David B. (Clearwater, FL)

Thanks for all ur work Kevin cant imagine off season with out ur help. Love what I am hearing about spelling Frank Gore a bit this year Great, Great back and I want to see him fresh for Bills And Ravens in late Dec. With right side of the O line being so young was wondering have u heard any news about the stretch play this year in the play book. Thought it would work well with Turbin and Mack. Thanks again.

Bowen: I haven't. And I don't expect Rob Chudzinski to reveal that type of specific strategy regarding the playbook. I do think the addition of Marlon Mack could lead to more creativity with how the Colts use their running back. I'm curious to see how Mack could impact things in the backfield.

Nanette D. (Fort Wayne, IN)

Hey Kevin, Just listened to you on the Locked on Colts podcast with Matt Danely. Matt has done an outstanding job developing this show while having many guests and sharing lots of very detailed information about the Colts. I truly hope you will be joining him often through the season to keep us Colts fans up to date. Thanks

Bowen: Thanks for listening. I really enjoyed my hour-plus with Matt. Loved his questions. I'm sure I will join him again as we get into the season. For those that missed it, here’s a link to the podcast.

Tim H. (Lafayette, IN)

What is the latest on Zach Orr? Do you think it is realistic to expect the Colts to sign. Thanks for doing the mailbag we get lots of answers about our Colts from you. I'm ready for the season. Should be in the south end zone for games.

Bowen: It's been quiet on the Zach Orr front, since his visit to the Colts two weeks ago. I would think two weeks would have been enough time to sift through the medical evaluations and see where Orr is with his neck. Right now, it doesn't look like an Orr/Colts marriage is happening. But you never know with Chris Ballard and that position still remains up in the air going into Training Camp.

Joshua L. (Camp Casey, South Korea)

Hello kevin. Hope all is well. My question concerns our QB lineup. Even though Scott played a decent football game against Green Bay, why havent we given Stephen Morris a shot? He plays well in Pre-Season and i dont see why he wouldnt be productive for us. I like Stephen's play alot more than i do Scott's. Will or is there a competition going to happen come training camp? Or is Scott our guy if Luck isnt ready? Thanks again for your time Kevin. Take care.

Bowen: In the spring, we saw the backup quarterback as Scott Tolzien's job to lose. Tolzien took almost all of the first-team reps, with Luck sidelined. Unless something drastic changes in Training Camp, I'd expect Tolzien to be the guy Week One, if Luck can't go. I've said it before, it's very difficult for a coaching staff to make a decision on a backup QB. Do you want the safer bet in a guy like Tolzien, a veteran who has made three NFL starts? Or do you go with a guy like Morris, who might have more upside, but has also never taken an NFL snap. The good news for Morris? He should see more first-team action/overall playing time this preseason to impress, because of Luck likely being scaled back.

Matt H. (Metea, IN)

Kevin, Love, love , love the mailbag. Its awesome to see us true Colts fans come together. Unusual question sir, I have tried and tried, but I cant find any website that has information on what former Colts players are doing now. Im talking about Dilger, Mungro, Ballard, Bratzke, Ray Buchanan, etc. Is there anyway to find out what the former Colts players are up to? And i am not talking about just the players from the Manning era that everyone knows about. Edge, Harrison, Wayne. I would like to see what the un sung heros are up to, the back ups,the special teams players, etc. that never made the million dollar contracts. Thanks for doing what you do everyday!

Bowen: Matt, I don't think there's a specific website just on that topic. I know Colts Roundup does a very good job of checking in with former players. Honestly, just a google search on some of those guys could lead to the answers you are looking for as well.

Tony H. (Los Angeles)

Hello Kevin!
This is an opinion on Vontae Davis. I feel he has already reached his prime during that 2014 season. What we saw in 2015-2016 is the real Vontae Davis. I feel it would be a terrible, terrible, mistake to dust off Nate Hairston. He should be groomed to replace Davis. Your thought Kevin.

Bowen: Davis has one final chance to address your opinion in a contract year this season. At the age of 29, Davis is reaching the age where we often see cornerbacks lose a step or two. Watching Davis during the spring offseason program, I still saw signs of a Pro Bowl cornerback. Now, can Davis avoid the nagging injuries and play at a consistent No. 1 corner level for an entire season? If so, a new contract will be coming his way next spring. I'm not ruling out Nate Hairston at all. But we just didn't see much of the fifth-round pick during the offseason program. I expect that to change some during Training Camp.

James C. (Northwest, England)

Hello Kevin hope you are well, 
My first question- Which Rookie do you anticipate will have the biggest impact this season and why? My suggestion would be either Hooker or Wilson due to the need at the positions and their flat out abilities so one of those guys for me would be the top contributor in this class.
My second question- If this offensive line stays healthy and that's a big 'if' could this be considered as one of the better lines in the NFL? It is hard to argue that on paper the left side (Castonzo,Mewhort,Kelly) isnt one of the best out there. What do you think?
Thanks man keep up the great work.

Bowen: 1. I'm with you there. Has to be either Hooker or Wilson. Going into camp, Wilson still has some work to do in order to secure his starting spot. But I believe both of these guys will be Day One starters and have significant impacts to how much this defense improves in 2017. 2. Let's pump the breaks slightly on the offensive line all of a sudden becoming one of the best in the NFL. Yes, I do think we will see major strides from that unit in 2017. But that's a lot to ask for them to ascend to a top-five or so unit in just one offseason.

Ben P. (Los Angeles)

Hey Kevin,

My question for you regards Anthony Walker Jr. How high do you think his ceiling is? I think he has the intangibles to be great if he can clean up a few things. He is the leader our defense desperately needs. That being said, who will start in the middle at inside linebacker? Also, is you could check out my Colts work at, it would be much appreciated. Keep up the awesome work!

Bowen: The leadership aspect of Walker's game is something the Colts need. If Walker can accompany that characteristic with solid play on the field, he's going to be an attractive option at inside linebacker. I still think Walker's rookie contributions will be more on special teams. I've got Jon Bostic starting at one inside linebacker spot. I'm not sure on the other. Edwin Jackson, Antonio Morrison and Sean Spence are all options, along with Walker.

Mikey U. (Folkestone, England)

hi kevin, hope your well. its been a while since my last question/statement

The colts seem to be completely overlooked and seen as a rebuild team by the rest of the league. neither the paper or tv press show any confidence in us.
I just read our defense is ranked 32nd by one "respected" broadcaster, and by another at 26th. This D is so new they probably dont even know each other names yet. no snaps, havent seen the playbook but already the worst in the league.. 
Even the offence the "experts" say were no good
Andrew even with the shoulder, still doing it. ty top reciever, frank gore awesome 
Its comical how the team is ranked, so low. 8-8 it is a bad year apparently. we were so close houston,lions,jags wins should have been 11-5
i watched everygame on game pass before i made a comment, we had many mistakes, but no shame all teams do.. 8-8 not bad

kevin what do you think about last year???
I Can see a 10 win season next year,

Bowen: Welcome back, Mikey. I've said it before, if Andrew Luck is healthy for 16 games, I see no reason why this team isn't capable of winning 10-plus games. If the defense just made a couple of more plays last season, the Colts would have been in the playoffs. You don't need a drastic uptick in the defensive play for this team to get back into the postseason. We just don't know what the defense is going to look like due to all the new faces.

Randyrell R. (Marshville, NC)

Will Andrew Luck be ready for the first game of the season?

Bowen: Short, to the point. My gut says Luck will be ready for Week One. But we need to see him start throwing soon for that to happen. Unless the Colts sign a veteran quarterback in the coming weeks, I think that's another good sign for Luck's availability come Sept. 10. When Training Camp starts in two weeks, that will offer some more information on where Luck is rehab wise, thus leading to a more accurate answer to this question.

Dustin H. (Murrells Inlet, SC)

Hi Kevin, first time asking, but a long time reader. Thank you for taking time to answer questions from fans. Here is my question, since 2012 the colts are 27-2 when winning the turnover battle, and Andrew Luck is 25-0 when the defense gives up 21 points or less. Am I the only person that can see that with hooker grabbing a few picks and a better run D we could pretty much be elite. I know it's kinda analytical, but those numbers are crazy!!! GO COLTS!!!

Bowen: Happy to have you, Dustin. Those numbers are crazy. Chris Ballard and Chuck Pagano have to be scratching their heads at those numbers. If the defense can make some positive steps, this team is going to again be in the talk of the AFC's top teams. Now, labeling the unit as 'elite' right here in 2017 would be premature. Other pieces are still needed on this defense. Like a dominant pass rusher, a mainstay at inside linebacker, and depth along the defensive line and at cornerback. It's going to take a couple of years before this defense can truly become elite.

Rodney A. (Winston-Salem, NC)

Hi Kevin, I really enjoy your column, being a colt fan here in Carolina it provides valuable information on whats going on locally with the colts.So again,thank you for all your efforts. My troubling question came to me this week in an email from a guy that I went to college with at the University of South Carolina. He has been employed by sports illustrated in Tampa, Fl since 1984. Hes telling me that there is strong rumors seeping out in the medical circle that is associated with the colts saying that the surgery on Lucks right shoulder has not been as successful as they had hoped and is not responding to therapy as they had hoped. He even said that there is talk of another surgery that would cancel his season. Have you heard of these rumors from the inside? Thanks for all you do for the colt nation.


Bowen: No problem, Rodney. I have not heard any of these rumors. They would obviously differ a lot from what Jim Irsay said last month. Again, like I said above, the fact that the Colts have not signed another veteran quarterback is one of the biggest reasons why I believe Luck should be okay for the start of the regular season.

Theis S. (Copenhagen, Denmark)

Hey Kevin! 
I hope you have enough time from us fans to play golf, and i hope it is going well with it! 
I came to think of out old RB Donald Brown the other day - is he still in the league at all? 
And what were your thoughts back then when He was not given a contract? I remember He had a pretty solid contract year, right? Who else was in his draft-class and is anyone still on the team? 
Kind regards from Denmark!

Bowen: Theis, it definitely is. I got in three rounds over July 4th! Donald Brown's last NFL action came in 2015 with the Chargers. He was released by the Patriots during last year's preseason. You could certainly make the argument the Colts should have kept Brown after the 2013 campaign. I understand them wanting to move on though. But this team was void then of a consistent back-up runner in 2014 and 2015. He did average 5.3 yards per carry in his contract year of 2013. No member remains from Brown's draft class of 2009. Pat McAfee was the last man standing. Fili Moala, Jerraud Powers and Austin Collie were some of the bigger names from that '09 rookie class.

Lucas P. (Indiana)

In a previous Mailbag, you mentioned that Ryan Grigson read the questions. Does Chris Ballard read the Mailbag questions as well? And how much are you personally in the Colts' offices? I love the idea that Colts' fans are getting some inside information from the front office, or at least some insight into their thinking. I have this picture of you not-so-secretly leaking information from Irsay, Ballard, and Pagano (yes, I've been watching too much news lately!).

Bowen: Haha, I don't think he does. I'm in the office every day. However, don't read too much into me having inside knowledge or anything close to that. My job is to be objective and report accurately. I do feel though provides the most amount of reliable/consistent written coverage throughout the entire year.

John F. (Horseshoe Bay, TX)

With the Colts holding joint practices with the Lions this training camp, are they going to go live tackling as Pagano and Ballard have said? I would think that the Lions may not want to do that because of the risk to their players. Or will there be a mix of some tackling/shadowing?

Bowen: My guess is no. But this is a good question. I think with the practices so late in the week, they will probably just go in shells and then obviously tackle live on Sunday in the preseason opener. If the Colts do tackle in camp, I think it will be with themselves. I'm not sure on Jim Caldwell's stance with tackling during camp.

Sunil A. (Houston)

Hi Kevin,
Thanks again for the great information service you are providing for Colts fans like me. In the last mailbag, you wrote that you had been very impressed by what players have said about WR coach Sanjay Lal.I would like to know more about him - his background, past coaching experience, playing career etc. 
Thanks. Keep up the good work!

Bowen: No problem, Sunil. Check out this article for more on Lal. Here’s a video as well on the new wideout coach. Lal played at the University of Washington and had a stint in the NFL and in NFL Europe, too.

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