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Colts Wednesday Mailbag: How Will The Colts Handle D'Joun Smith's Potential Return?

Intro: This Wednesday, mailbag readers inquire about the play of Griff Whalen, the play of cornerback Greg Toler and the status of rookie running back Josh Robinson.


INDIANAPOLIS – Each week, readers of 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:Justin C. (Anderson, IN)

We need to work on out O-Line. Also. I think if we put Griff as a WR it wouldnt be so bad. Take him out of KRing and have him at WR. He has some pretty good hands. Do you guys think you could do that?

Bowen: Well, Justin, the Colts have taken Whalen off of return duties in the recent weeks. While Quan Bray has taken over back there, Whalen has slid into the offense to eat up the reps that Phillip Dorsett was getting when the rookie was healthy. Whalen has been tremendous when used as a wide receiver this season. In 2015, no NFL receiver with at least 55 offensive snaps has a higher reception/target percentage than Whalen. The fourth year wide receiver has caught 13 of his 14 targets this season (92.9 percent). Dorsett is expected to be out at least a few more weeks so expect Whalen to continue to play in an offensive setting.

Charlie M. (Frankfort)

Had the Colts ever faced two undefeated teams in a row this far into the season before this year?

Bowen: The NFL sent out a stat on this last week. The Colts played back-to-back teams with at least 6-0 records the last two weeks. Only four teams in NFL history have ever done that. The 1934 Lions, the 2004 Steelers and the 2015 Packers joined the Colts in having such a stretch on their schedule. Another scheduling quirk for the Colts comes in the next month or so. After the Denver game, the Colts will play just one home game in the next 41 days (a bye week and then three of the next four games on the road). The only home game during that stretch comes on 11/29 against Tampa Bay.

Stan C. (Minneapolis, MN)

On the Emmanuel Sanders TD, Greg Toler gave Sanders about a 12 yard cushion before the snap before proceeding to get burned deep anyways. In other words, he was Greg Toler and treated as such by the opposing quarterback.

The Colts have been pretending that Toler is an acceptable compliment to Vontae Davis for far too long. I know that the rookie D'joun Smith is coming off of the short term IR fairly soon. While it is obvious that it's too soon to shove him into starting action, where/when does he project in the starting lineup? Would it be unreasonable to view him as someone who could push Toler for the spot opposite Davis in 2016? Or is he too developmental/a better fit as a 3rd corner?

Bowen: Chuck Pagano was asked about Toler on Monday and this is what the head coach had to say: "I think it's being consistent. That's what it boils down to, is playing consistent football. If they do get you, you got to bounce back and you got to put it behind you and you got to move on. Greg is a great player. Everybody goes through stretches where they have this, that or the other, but he'll get his mojo back and he did make some outstanding football plays in that game. There are some plays obviously he'd love to have back but nobody is worried about GT, he'll be fine." Now as far as D'Joun Smith, he has been practicing and is eligible to come off injured reserve designated to return for the Atlanta game, following the bye week. A knee injury for Smith has forced him to sit out every regular season game this year and he didn't play too much in the preseason either. It's hard to project how game ready Smith is right now. I don't see him supplanting Toler in the starting lineup right away, if at all. Now, Toler is a free agent in 2016, so the Colts are definitely going to have to evaluate this offseason how they view Smith's second season impact. The Colts definitely need Toler to play more consistent as he's been susceptible to the deep ball too many times in 2015.

Jason W. (Indiana)

Can we please get a chance to see Matt hasselback Andrew luck just needs to rest playing with an injury is dumb and we have won 2 games with him isn't that a sign Matt hasselback should get another chance

Bowen: Well, Jason here you go...Andrew Luck is out two-to-six week due to a lacerated kidney. In his place, Matt Hasselbeck has been (once again) thrust into duty. Here is much more on the loss of Luck and Hasselbeck back under center.

Blake M. (Mt. Washington, KY)

is the good offensive showing against the Broncos due to the change at offensive coordinator or is it due to the colts playing the Broncos because it seem they we alway play better against them and if it is the coordinator what changes has he made to make such a big difference

Bowen: Blake, I don't think the offensive performance had much to do with the repeatable success against Denver. This is an entirely new defensive scheme for Denver in 2015 with new coordinator Wade Phillips changing form a 4-3 scheme to a 3-4 system. Earlier this week, we went into depth on why the offense had more success compared to what had been transpiring in 2015. Check that out as to why Rob Chudzinski and the unit put together its best 60 minutes of the year against the league's best defense.

Taggyrt M. (Keenesburg, CO)

After seeing quan bray not call fair catch and get hit hard to the turf, picking up a bouncing punt when it was illedfised. Will Griff Whalen be back returning again. Even though he had a few fumbles vs saints he had some nice punt returns. Did the Colts forget bout his 50 yard kick return vs Texans. I know its a repeating question but will we se the Griffer return punt again?

Bowen: There's been no mention of Whalen going back to his return duties. Yes, Bray had some hesitancy when fielding on Sunday. However, he has an obvious burst, which was almost the difference in the Colts overtime loss to Carolina (Bray had a 45-yard return to start overtime in Carolina). For now, I don't see Whalen back returning punts/kicks in the immediate future.

Hayden G. (Hollis Center, ME)

My question for colts mailbag, is do you think that the colts will keep all the veterans this coming offseason(Gore, Johnson, Cole) or go for a whole roster revamp to build for years to come?

Bowen: We continue to receive questions about the 2016 offseason, but this one is a new twist to the ones that had been coming in. The three names you mentioned are all under contract through 2016. However, there are a lot of factors to weigh in over the next few months to see how the roster looks next season. I can assure you if Frank Gore wants to play a 12th NFL season, he's shown no reason why the Colts wouldn't love to have him back in 2016. Both Gore and Johnson are under contract through 2018, with Cole inked up through 2017.

Josh G. (Memphis, TN)

what is Josh Robinson's status....I haven't seen him play or read anything about him.

Bowen: Robinson has been inactive for the last four weeks. Right now Frank Gore and Ahmad Bradshaw are getting all the running back reps for the Colts. Zurlon Tipton has been active on game days with his role just coming on special teams. That obviously means the Colts would rather have Tipton handle the special teams role versus Robinson. There has been no real update on Robinson or reason given for him being inactive. I do think the team is still high on Robinson. They just don't need a third running back within the offensive game plan.

Danny C. (Louisiana)

Why didn't the officials eject Talib for poking Allan's eye? I hope the NFL takes serious action toward players that behave that way. It needs to be suspension without pay! There are so many issues today with drugs, dui and domestic violence off the field and now you are seeing more of this type of attitude that players can act this way without punishment. It's not about race nor religion! It's not stereotyping's making players, coaches and owners be responsible and ACCOUNTABLE for their words and actions! Consequences fit the behaviour. What are your thoughts about Talib actions? Please don't give a cheap weak Phil Simms answer. What do you think the punishment should have been?

Bowen: I definitely think the one-game suspension that the NFL has given Aqib Talib is warranted. He has also been suspended without pay. There's really no place for those type of actions and it looks even worse when there was nothing (on-film) that Dwayne Allen did to even warrant a confrontation. As far as ejecting Talib during the game, I'm not sure what type of angle the referees had to see exactly what he did---if they saw the actual eye-poke in real time. The ref does enter the picture pretty quickly when looking back at the film. Talib was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct and that might have just been for coming into the face of Allen. Nonetheless, Talib's appeal was denined.

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