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.
Here is the collection of Wednesday questions:Gabriel B. (Monterrey, Mexico)
I had a question about who is getting the most reps at training for the 4th wr position. we can assume that ty, moncrief and dorsett have the first 3 spots secure. who else you think will make the final roster?
Bowen: Right now, we have seen some separation in this race. Quan Bray, Chester Rogers and Tevaun Smith are all meriting consideration, for a variety of reasons. Bray is your return man. With returns likely becoming a bigger part of the game this year, Bray's presence is even more of value this season. That would leave a Rogers/Smith debate for one of the final wide receiver spots. With Rogers, you have a speedier guy that can help on special teams. Smith is a taller receiver, who has made plays in close quarters this season. Right now, I'd probably give a slight edge to Rogers. Both of these guys are going to have chances to impress in the final two preseason games.
Harvester P. (Muncie, IN)
I am a big Colts fan. Kevin, this is my first time writing the mailbag, I have a few questions. My questions are do you think Antonio Cromartie can make an impact on the defense? Will Frank Gore break the 1,000 yard mark this year? Can the Colts reach the AFC Conference game this year.
Bowen: 1. If Cromartie is healthy, and that's a big question right now given his age and the Jets parting ways with him, then he can certainly make an impact. While Cromartie had his struggles last season, he was a Pro Bowler from 2012-14. The Colts have a clear need at cornerback right now so Cromartie could fill a massive void, with Vontae Davis out for some time. Plus, the fit of Cromartie in this system seems to be a pretty good marriage. 2. I do believe Gore will crack the 1,000-yard mark this season. With a healthy offense around Gore, the veteran running back should benefit with getting back to his typical 1,000-yard campaign. 3. Until we see what the defense looks like, this question is going to be left unanswered. Right now, the Colts are down more than half of their starters on defense. I will say that I think the AFC is wide open right now. So many significant storylines with all of your typical playoff bound teams in this conference. I don't see a clear favorite, in really either conference.
Gordon C. (Los Angeles)
86 Eric Swoope looks like a keeper for the #2 TE position. Your thoughts?
Bowen: Chuck Pagano has been impressed by what Swoope has shown this preseason. Now, let's not put him ahead of Jack Doyle just yet. Doyle fills so many roles for this team and has done it for three seasons now. Swoope has played just one NFL game. In case you missed it, here is what Pagano had to say about Swoope earlier this week: "Mo Alie-Cox continues to do some really good things, as a blocker and obviously in the pass game."
Walter B. (New Philadelphia, OH)
Hey there Mr. Bowen! With so much of our secondary battling injury, what are the chances we see the Colts sit the starting defensive backs and play them in week 4 of the preseason? I honestly believe the best thing would be to sit those injured starters for the rest of the preseason to get them ready when it really matters! Thanks!
Bowen: In past years, we've seen hardly any definite regular season starters see playing time in the preseason finale. I'd expect that to continue, regardless of the position. If you are a Week One starter for the Colts, you are likely going to be in street clothes a week from Thursday, down in Cincinnati.
Grant H. (Indiana)
I'm a big Purdue fan and so I'm here to ask questions about Danny Anthrop and Frankie Williams. How are they doing in practice? I've noticed Danny has only played a couple offensive downs, is there any chance he gets more playing time in week 3 and 4? #ForTheShoe #BoilerUp
Bowen: For these two guys, both need to hope they make it through Tuesday's roster cut (from 90-to-75 players) and that will give them an extended look in the preseason finale. This Saturday, the starters are going to play into the second half. That means time is limited in preseason Game No. 3 for the backend of the roster guys. Their playing time really comes in Week Four of the preseason, when the Colts travel to Cincinnati a week from Thursday. Practice is closed to the media now, so we don't get a chance to see their progressions. While Anthrop hasn't seen much action on offense, Williams has caught the eye of Pagano. Here is what Pagano had to say, unsolicited, on Williams earlier this week: "Frankie Williams continues to be a guy that shows up every single day here and does exactly what you ask him to do and on game day you can see the results of his hard work and his preparation. He makes plays and it's not too big for Frankie. We all know where he came from and how he got here, but he continues to impress out there. Obviously with the injuries he's going to get more playing time. He's a guy that can go in there and play nickel." Clearly, Williams has emerged from the handful of undrafted guys at corner.
Anthony O. (Springfield, MO)
Hi Kevin, look forward to your work each week and really excited to have football back finally even if it's just preseason. I bought into the hype of Ferguson but in the last 2 weeks he has been lackluster at best it seems, needless to say I'm a tad disappointed. A lot of analysts have Turbin or Tolman as the 2nd back behind Gores. Do you think Ferguson will turn the corner in the last 2 games and make the team or do you feel he may be slipping more towards the practice squad? I know he did decent in the return game but it just doesn't seem like he's living up to the hype thus far.
Bowen: This week, we saw several questions regarding Ferguson and the overall depth at running back. Against Baltimore, it was Robert Turbin's turn to be the first back off the bench, after Frank Gore exited early on. Josh Ferguson has to become a better blocker. That's something you just can't evaluate in OTAs. Now, the full pads are here with live action and that means rookie running backs are thrown into the gauntlet of seeing if they can hold up in blitz protection. While Ferguson's running numbers haven't been productive this preseason, I have seen that burst in other areas. He still brings an element to the running back position that cannot be overlooked. Would it do Ferguson some good to flash in the final two preseason games? Of course. I still think he's on the right side of the bubble, if the Colts plan on keeping four running backs to start the season. As Chuck Pagano said earlier this week, the running back reps are very "fluid" right now behind Gore.
Timothy J. (Edinburg, TX)
Hey Mr. Bowen got a quick rb question. Bills just released Karlos Williams and i know hes got a 4game suspension and he was overweight. He got cleared to practice so he has apparently gotten in better shape and by the end of preseason and suspension he should be back in great shape so do you see the Colts giving him a shout?? He is young extremely talented seeing his numbers last year only starting 3 games but had like 500 yards and like 9 TD being a 5th rounder last yr couldnt they get him for cheap?? Ok thats 2 questions and maybe not so quick
Bowen: We had quite a few Karlos Williams' questions this week. Williams is suspended for the first four games of 2016 and his weight has been reported north of 260 pounds, hence the reason for the Bills releasing him. As of now, I don't see the Colts trying to pick up Williams. They went out and got Robert Turbin and Jordan Todman for a reason. Both of those guys have been quality backups on playoff teams in the past. With Frank Gore being the sure fire lead back, the Colts do not need to ask a whole lot from their reserve backs. Also, Josh Ferguson is still in the thick of trying to earn some reps behind Gore. A healthy Gore is the guy in Indy and the Colts like the variety of depth they have at the backup spots.
Yash T. (Denver)
Really appreciate what you do for us fans not in Indy. Aftet seeing the game on Saturday, I can't wait to come visit and see the week 1 game vs Detroit.
My question is about the defense. TY McGill looked nice but without Art Jones, Kendall Langford, Sio Moore, or Clayton Geathers, not to forget Henry Anderson either. Does this defense have what it takes to stop other play off teams? Let alone the AFC South.
From a fan all the way in broncos territory, let's go Colts! – YT
Bowen: The good news on the defensive injury front, it's that none of those injuries are considered long, long term. All of those guys mentioned should be back by October, at the latest. Some will obviously return sooner than that. A glass half full approach would say that those injuries have allowed some depth to be created this preseason. Guys that might have been in the background during August have had to play leading roles, particularly on the defensive line. But these injuries haven't really painted the picture for what this defense is in 2016. On Saturday night against Baltimore, the Colts had 10 of their likely 11 starters on offense (T.Y. Hilton was out). On defense, they were missing at least a handful of starters. I do think once some of the names above return to health, this defense will make the necessary jump to complement the offense.
Dave H. (Sebring, FL)
KEVIN, I KNOW PAT HAS KICKED FIELD GOALS IN PRACTICE AT 75 YDS. BUT IS HE ACCURATE ALOT AND CAN DO IT UNDER PRESSURE, IF IT EVER CAME DOWN WERE WE NEEDED TO WIN THE GAME, WOULD PAGANO AND STAFF TRY PAT IN FIELD GOAL SITUATION TO KICK A LONG GAME SAVING OR WINNING GOAL? WOULD YOU TRUST HIM ENOUGH?
Bowen: Well, Dave, you got your wish on Saturday night. The 62-yard, game-winning attempt, from McAfee fell just a couple of yards short. I would guess anything north of about 57-ish yards would mean McAfee gets the call in such a situation. In the past handful of seasons, we've seen Adam Vinatieri knock home field goals from 53-to-55 yards. If McAfee can show in practice that 60 is in his range, than I think that option is a higher percentage than attempting a Hail Mary to close out a half/game.
Michael N. (Lenore City, TN)
What is the feedback on the new coaches for the workouts and training. I have been down on the injured players for more then a few years due to the bad rehabs making new problems. This might be a better question in a month but with Anderson coming back I would like to know.
Bowen: Michael, you're right, I think you're going to have to wait a bit for some tangible results. Players have raved about the new strength and conditioning program. It's also only been in place for eight months. Football centric movements for specific positions have dominated the offseason program from a training standpoint. But it's hard to make a concrete assessment until you get a year (or even more) into that area of training.
Eddie F. (Nineveh, IN)
This may sound like a silly question. I have watched football al my life. I have never understood what the difference is between a Guard and Tackle. What is the difference between these positions as to why a player may only be a guard and not a tackle. I do understand the blindside reasoning. However to me it seems a 315 pound lineman should be able to play any lineman position and be successful. What really is the difference?
Bowen: I think athleticism and length is what pertains most to being a successful tackle and separates someone who can play outside, versus sliding inside to play guard. Action at guard is quick and you're dealing with stouter, more powerful guys in short spaces. At tackle, what is coming at you is typically a guy trying to get upfield with speed and you have more space to cover with oftentimes no other player to the right or left side of you, depending on where you line up. That's why third-round pick Le'Raven Clark has the measurables to be a long-term tackle in this league. His arms are so long, they allow him to engage an edge rusher out in space and save himself potentially in getting a hand on a guy that is trying to rush past him. Inside, at guard, you don't necessarily need such a wingspan to hold up.
Paul M. (Pittston, PA)
Hi Kevin, if the o-line continues not to establish a run game(1.9 yds per carry)like last week, do you see them trying to trade for a lineman or two. I realize it's preseason but, 1.9 will never get it done
Bowen: We saw a slight improvement in the run game against Baltimore, but Chuck Pagano still wants more out of that area. Ryan Grigson spoke last week how the Colts will not hesitate to use outside resources in improving areas of the team. A significant trade might be difficult, but the waiver wire following final roster cuts has been used by the Colts (successfully) before. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I do think the run game in 2016 is going to be a byproduct of what the Colts can do in the passing game. The ability to spread defenses out with T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief and Jacoby Brissett should give Frank Gore running lanes against a defense that isn't hovering in a confined box, near the line of scrimmage. On Saturday, we saw the Colts use three-receiver sets on 70 percent of their pass plays (and that was without T.Y. Hilton). That's going to force defensive personnel to adjust how they defend the Colts, thus being a benefit to Gore and the run game.