Colts Mailbag

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Colts Wednesday Mailbag: How Will The Colts Replace Coby Fleener?

Intro: This Wednesday, mailbag readers inquire about the Colts trip to London in October, the future at running back behind Frank Gore and how the defensive line will look in 2016 once the group is healthy.

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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.

Here is the collection of Wednesday questions:Dan T. (Cincinnati)

I felt that Coby Fleener was one of the better receiving tight ends in the NFL, and definitely one of the speedier ones. With whom do the Colts plan to use to replace his productivity?

Bowen: Coby Fleener did provide the Colts with consistent production the last three years. Fleener was the lone Colts player (non specialist) to not miss a game from 2013-15. He's moved on to New Orleans and with that, the Colts do have around 50 catches to replace. Dwayne Allen is going to absorb a chunk of those. The Colts know they must get Allen more involved in the passing game. Those opportunities, especially down the middle of the field, should be there with what the Colts have at the receiver position. That leads me to Jacoby Brissett. I'd expect Dorsett to also take on some of those targets. He's healthy and clearly the No. 3 receiver. You also have to mention Jack Doyle. Physically, Doyle isn't the same lanky body type as Fleener. But Doyle is extremely reliable and is going to be an option on underneath routes. The Colts can replace the productivity of Fleener, but it's going to come from a few different guys.

Robbie H. (England)

Hi Kevin

Do you know if we have any fan events planned over here before the game at Wembley? Just over 100days to go and already excited.

Thanks

Robbie

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Bowen: A couple of questions this week on the Colts playing the Jaguars in London. I know there will be some fan events in the day(s) leading up to the Oct. 2 game overseas. The specifics have yet to be announced though. When they do, we will of course post them to Colts.com. On another London note, Andrew Luck and Dwayne Allen are scheduled to be over there next month, so keep an eye out for that.

Elisha M. (Greencastle, IN)

Hey Kevin thanks for answering all of our questions it really helps us get a feel for how the team is doing. How are the cornerbacks looking so far in particular Tevin Mitchell and Daniel Davie and how how long are Henry Anderson and Djoun Smith expected to be out? Thanks for tour time.

Bowen: We saw Tevin Mitchel get onto the field late in the team's offseason program. This staff is eager to see what Mitchel can do after he was a (Washington Redskins') sixth-round pick in 2015. I'll be honest, I haven't watched Davie specifically too much. I do believe there is a potential roster spot or two open at cornerback, behind Vontae Davis/Patrick Robinson/Darius Butler. On to your injury questions: D'Joun Smith is expected to be back for the start of Training Camp. Henry Anderson might not be ready for the start of the regular season.

Stan C. (Minneapolis, MN)

Hey Kevin! Thanks as always for your insights. I have been spending my time theorizing about the potential makeup of the 53-man roster (because that's how a man desperate for the season to start spends his time, apparently). Since many of the fringe 53-man roster candidates are in battles that will be nigh-impossible to predict until much later in the preseason, I began with a look at the players I consider penned-in-ink roster locks. Afterwards, I considered positional strengths/scarcity, young prospects, and depth concerns. I ended up with at least 41 ironclad locks:

QB: Luck, Tolzien

RB: Gore, Turbin

WR: Hilton, Moncrief, Dorsett, Bray

TE: Allen, Doyle

OL: Castonzo, Mewhort, Kelly, Reitz, Good, Clark, Haeg

DL: Jones, Parry, Anderson, Langford, Ridgeside, Kerr

LB: Jackson, Irving, Moore, Morrison, Mathis, Cole, Walden, Okine (if they indeed choose to play him there, otherwise DL)

CB: Davis, Robinson, Butler, Smith

S: Adams, Geathers, Green

ST: Vinatieri, McAfee, Overton

There are other spots that are easy to narrow down (the remaining OL contenders, a few of the depth guys in the secondary, the contenders for 3rd/4th RB, etc.) and we know those candidates. However, they are in battles for those positions and thus their individual names are not necessarily guaranteed. Glancing through this list, do you think any of these names are not carved in stone? More importantly, do you think there are other players who are assured of roster spots (Jordan Todman, T.Y. McGill, Winston Guy, Josh Boyce, Jalil Brown, Mo Alie-Cox, etc.)?

Bowen: I like this version of how to look at a 53-man roster. When you look at the bubble guys, special teams is the first thing that pops into my head. I think Winston Guy has a really good shot to make the team again. The Colts have lost some key special teamers in recent years, but Guy is certainly a player who makes an impact among those units. Plus, the Colts could use another backup safety. Due to depth, I think all those names you mentioned would have good chances to make the team. The Colts have to fill out depth in all those spots and we saw first-team reps for all of those guys during the offseason program. I wouldn't say they are locks, but if the season started tomorrow they would probably be on the right side of the roster bubble.

Isak H. (Mexico City)

Hi Kevin, good day. I would love to know how Austin Blythe and Adam Redmond are doing. I think Blythe is a player like none that the colts have had. It seems like the NFL has very few good backups at C, and Blythe looks like a great option there. Thoughts?

Bowen: The reps for Austin Blythe this offseason came as a backup center. I expect him and Jonotthan Harrison to be in competition for that spot during Training Camp. The Colts are clearly high on Blythe. Why else would they draft two centers in one draft? Adam Redmond has been playing as a reserve guard. Again, it's hard to evaluate offensive linemen this time of year because the full pads haven't come on yet. We will see in Anderson if Redmond can challenge for a roster spot as a backup guard.

Luke R. (Rochester, NY)

Hey Kevin,

This may be an obvious question, but one of the most important for the Colts. The Colts offense, while good, has a running game with a running back at the wrong end of 30. With that said, 1. When will the Colts look for their RB of the future? 2. Where will the Colts look for their RB? (i.e. FA/Draft), and 3. How big of an investment should the Colts make when searching for their RB?

Bowen: Let's start with acknowledging that Frank Gore isn't your typical 33-year-old running back. This guy is still a No. 1 running back. But like you said, the Colts are going to need to look towards the future at that position sooner, rather than later. I'm intrigued by next year's draft class. It's supposedly a very deep running back class in 2017. I think that's the proper route to take given Gore being under contract through 2017.

Jacob H. (Fullerton, CA)

Kevin,

I just saw a post online that showed the final colors for the color rush uniforms this coming season, PLEASE tell me the Colts are NOT going to wear all white?! I was so beyond excited thinking that they would dress in an all blue uniform for the first time. Hopefully what I saw was fake.. Can you confirm or deny this?

Bowen: Jacob, there's been no announcement to if/what the Colts are going to wear for a potential "color rush" game this season. Hopefully, we will have something soon on this, as I know fans are looking forward to the possibility of the Colts wearing an alternate uniform for a game.

Max S. (Indianapolis)

Once Arthur Jones and Henry Anderson are both fully-healthy, which one of them will start? Do you think that one of them will start over Kendall Langford? Or do you think that one of those 3 players can be moved to nose tackle so that we can have Anderson, jones and Langford out on the field at the same time?

Bowen: We have received this question a few times throughout the offseason. We are a long way from this being an issue. The Colts aren't going to put Jones or Anderson out there in a starting role until both are 100 percent. Like Jim Irsay said at minicamp, that could be some time for Anderson after he tore his ACL last November. I can assure you that Kendall Langford deserves to be a starter. He was so key for this team in 2015 and has defined the word durability over his NFL career. I'm not sure if Jones could be a nose a tackle, and possibly supplant David Parry in the starting lineup. We haven't seen Jones really play that position much on early downs with the Colts. This is a really good question and one that I don't think we have a definite answer to. It's a great problem to have though. If/when this does happen, expect the Colts to rotate plenty of bodies among the defensive line, a position group that might be among the team's deepest once this situation arises.

Kenny S. (RAF Lakenheath, England)

I've been reading this mail bag for about 3 years now and it's great. I'm stationed in England and I bought tickets for the Colts vs Jags game the day they went on sale. Is there anyway I can meet the team somehow when they're here?

Bowen: Kenny, like I wrote above, I believe there will be some sort of fan fest type events but not sure if those gatherings will include any players or not. Stay tuned to Colts.com with information on everything London related. I will encourage you if you want to "meet" players or possibly get autographs, get inside of Wembley Stadium as early as possible on game day. When players go out for the early portion of pre-game wramups, they typically sign a few autographs around their tunnel for fans. I'd assume they would try to do the same in London.

Dave S. (Auburn, IN)

I know Luck is going to break the bank, and he's worth it. But I still have concern for the pass rush. It would seem to me that adding Freeney on a one year contract would make all kinds of sense. He would come cheap, make it him vs Cole, and the loser is cut. I envision similar contracts for both, we get an upgraded old guy, and the money washes. Freeney and Mathis are reunited and he/they retire as a Colt. What do you think?

Bowen: With Freeney, the dollars situation has to be taken into account. The Colts are tightly strapped right now money wise and I think that's the biggest factor when playing the, "Why don't we sign this guy?" game. Even though it's Dwight Freeney, you still have to view him like you would any other veteran free agent signing this time of year. The Colts don't have a pool of funds to be spending right now. They know the importance of trying to develop some young pass rushing talent. That has to happen and bringing a situational pass rusher on like Freeney could hinder such reps.

John F. (Horseshoe Bay, TX)

Hey, Kevin! I'm back again from Texas with a question about Andrew Luck. Just wondering what changes have your you seen in cutting back on Andrew's turnovers. In his limited time last season (albeit with a broken down offensive line), he was on pace to have as many turnovers (both INT's and fumbles) as TD's. Outside of the improved line, have you seen any changes in his play or reads? Hoping he can get back to 2014 type numbers and better than a 2:1 TD to INT ratio!!

Bowen: It's impossible to compare the speed of an OTA/minicamp practice to what is seen when the live bullets starts flying this fall. I do think that the nine games away from football for Luck in 2015 will impact his decision-making. So many of Luck's turnovers have come late in a play. If Luck does follow through with eliminating those sort of plays, by taking his medicine, that's naturally going to decrease the turnover numbers. A healthy line and a conscious effort from Luck to minimize those risk-taking plays should keep the picks/fumbles at a smaller rate in 2016.

Tyler T. (Indiana)

Everyone is always asking crazy in depth questions, but mine is simple. How do YOU personally think the Colts will perform this season? (Record) Who do you think we will beat, and who do you think will beat us?

Bowen: I keep on coming up with an 11-5 record for this team. That's what I went with on Colts UpClose earlier this offseason. Trying to predict all 16 games with a win/loss record wouldn't lead to much credibility, or success. I will say I think the toughest stretch of the season is a five-game run starting with the Steelers on Thanksgiving. The Colts host Pittsburgh, then go @Jets, Texans (on a short week), @Vikings and @Raiders (on a short week). Those are five games against teams that I think could challenge for playoff spots in 2016. If the Colts can go 3-2 in that span, I do believe this team will secure the AFC South and be set for at least one home playoff game this season.

Sandra S. (Mechanicsville, IN)

Kevin, thanks for the opportunity to question.

Has any decision been made regarding honoring the Super Bowl team during the Chicago or any other game this year? My husband travel to one game, and we are waiting to hear about this before purchasing our tickets. Thanks again.

Bowen: Sandra, there's been no announcement of which game the Colts will be honoring the Super Bowl XLI team this season. Hopefully we will have something for you very soon on that.

Doug S. (Hubbard, NE)

MY question is simple. Is there any truth that there will not be the national anthem before games in the 2017 season?

Bowen: I've heard nothing about that.

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