INDIANAPOLIS – Each week, readers of Colts.com can submit their questions to have a chance of them being answered in our Wednesday mailbag.
Here is this week's collection:Ron Spencer (Menomonie, WI)
I pride myself as being a long time student of the game of professional fooltball. Having said that I question the thinking that goes on with our defensive efforts these past few years. My take is how much in depth analysis has taken place with a 4/3 set up with the ability to adjust by opposition and situation. Until the defense shows its fans progress I maintain an ongoing position on the word flexibility the same as any successful business looks each year at the bottom line. RESULTS Thanks
Bowen: As far as flexibility within formations, I think you see that from this Colts defense. We've seen Robert Mathis put his hand in the ground, come after the passer and do the same thing from a stand-up position. We also saw him drop into coverage against Detroit in 2012 and record his first career interception. We've seen this preseason some pass rush situations with only 1 or 2 defenders in a stand still spot prior to the snap. It's all about innovation in the NFL and rest assured that coordinator Greg Manusky is very comfortable placing versatile parts all over his formations.
Laurence Foster (Bedford, TX)
I see Montori Hughes number is 95. That is/was Moala number.
Does that mean Moala is not coming back to the colts?
Bowen: Moala is on injured reserve so that's the reason for Hughes being able to choose that number. This is the time of year for a bunch of numbers to change with rosters down to 53 (Loucheiz Purifoy ot 23, Zach Kerr to 94, Mario Harvey to 48).
Dave H (Sebring, FL)
I THOUGHT WE BOUGHT IN LANCE LOUIS TO START AND LET MEWHORT PRACTICE UNTIL HE READY TO START. SINCE HE MORE NFL READY THAN MEWHORT AND HE CAN MOVE BIG LINEMAN????
Bowen: The competition between those two looked very open throughout the early part of camp once Donald Thomas went down. You drafted Mewhort in the second round for a reason. Louis is coming off more than a year away from playing football. Whoever was going to win that battle was going to start. Simple as that. Looks like Mewhort has won the left guard spot and now Louis will be the first guard in.
Isak H. (Mexico City)
The ravens cut former colts C Allan Quay Shipley, the last good center the team had. Might he return to Indianapolis?
Bowen: This question was obviously sent in before Sunday but nice job, Isak on predicting this signing. Shipley is extremely intelligent and that should alleviate some of the crash course learning he's in the midst of this week. The good news is Shipley has familiarity with many parts on the Colts, mainly Andrew Luck and him having five starts together back in 2012.
Devon Churchill (Mobhili, Sri Lanka)
Hi I've been a Colts fan ever since I was young, even though I have to have tapes of the games shipped to my country. We seem to have a lot of talent on our defense through acquisitions and such. Do you think we have what it takes to be a top 5 defense this year? And is Jerell Freeman really as good as he has looked every single game since we've signed him, or has he been playing above his potential? Thank you for your time.
Bowen: I do see a much-improved Colts defense in 2014. A jump all the way to top-five would put this team as probably the clear AFC favorite. The front seven has shown some moments this preseason in excelling against the run. The Colts secondary has to stay healthy though. We always hear about an improved rush defense but there are some elite passing attacks on this year's schedule so having a backend that can play on an island would serve the front seven very well in 2014. I wrote on Freeman yesterday and safe to say his position coach has extremely high expectations for the Colts leading tackler.
Jim Nance (Martin, TN)
Curious as to how the draft process works. Is there a hierarchy of scouts and information is sent from the lowest level of the pyramid up to Grigson who is the top of the structure? Does the coaching staff get the same reports and are they involved in the decisions. Does Irsay get involved in evaluating or recommending?
Bowen: Across the country, the Colts have about eight different scouts that have certain territories to scout during the year. That obviously picks up a ton this time of year with college football starting. The scouts gather in the offseason and that's when the draft board begins to take shape. The board is tweaked throughout the draft process (combine, private workouts, visits from prospects). Coaches attend workouts and they offer their evaluations as well, which the personnel department weighs.
Mike Jones (Fort Wayne, IN)
I notice in a picture of andrew luck that he isn't wearing the knee brace. With so much of the colts present/future riding on him do you think this is wise? I'm suprise management doesn't require him to wear it for protection. Your thoughts on this
Bowen: I know he isn't wearing that black sleeve we've seen him wear in the past years during practice. I'm not sure if he puts that or some other type of sleeve/brace on for games underneath his pads. At Stanford, Jim Harbaugh was a firm believer in all of his quarterbacks wearing a brace.
Matthew Emerick, (Cumberland, MD)
Welcome to the Mailbag Kevin, I have been writing for the past couple of seasons. Been a Colts fan my whole life from the Baltimore days through the move and up to the present. My question is more of an annoying observation. It appears fans only see what they want to see and then blast comments directed at certain players. I thought in the game against the Saints Richardson looked very good early on and yet in the flow of the game they went away from the run and the few carries he had later he was stuffed in the backfield ( not really his fault if the defense is smothering him in the backfield). However, fans start off with their typical, Trent is awful talk. I personally think this year will be a breakout year for Richardson and I also think his contribution and threat of an honest running game will give Luck further success with a very talented and extremely deep receiver corps. Thank you for your column and answering our questions an d GO COLTS!!!!
Bowen: No one will be more scrutinized this season than Richardson. I agree with you that I think we will see a different Richardson this season. Putting his own personal development aside, having the additional skill threats will force opposing defensive coordinators not to routinely crowd the box.
Kenny R, (Ankeny, IA)
Long time reader of the Colts Mailbag; first time responder. First I would just like to say thanks for doing the Mailbag, most teams aren't doing this and I like getting the perspective of one closer to the team. Now to the question:
I keep hearing that the Colts have the longest streak of UFDAs at 15 years yet can't seem to find the list. Do you happen to have a list of who those were each year?
Bowen: Kenny, sorry about this but I don't have a list. I know the Colts now have 16 years of achieving this feat. The Chiefs are second with 12 years. In 2014, the Colts have five undrafted free agents on their 53-man roster: Jonotthan Harrison, Zach Kerr, Henoc Muamba, Loucheiz Purifoy and Zurlon Tipton.
Kevin Rudge, (Portage, MI)
even though we are not winning games in the preseason does that effect the mental state of the colts players?
Bowen: I don't think one bit. Sure, every player in the locker room would love to have a clean slate in the preseason but that's not impacting their psyche on the regular season. No rings are handed out after the month of August. This isn't the first time the Colts will head into the regular after a winless preseason. The last two times they didn't win a preseason game (2005 and 2010), the Colts still made the playoffs.
Jesse Morritt, (Johnstown, Ontario)I don't get to see any preseason here in Canada so I've missed the progress of some of the interesting new Colts. I read a lot about Erik Swoope back in mini camp, how are his chances of making the 53 man opening day roster?
Bowen: It was great to see Swoope find a spot on the Colts practice squad. His potential now has room to grow in a more one-on-one type of setting with rosters now down to 63 guys (including the practice squad players). Not sure if the 250-poupnd Swoope will crack the 53-man roster this year but this project is trending in the right direction.