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Colts Wednesday Mailbag: If Andrew Luck Is Not Ready, Will Scott Tolzien Start In 2017?

Intro: This Wednesday, mailbag readers inquire about rookie cornerback Quincy Wilson, where Jonathan Hankins will line up and Peyton Manning/Robert Mathis having future gigs with the Colts.



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:

Andre M. (Fayetteville, AR)

Love how you try to keep people informed on the latest Colts updates. I have been a Colts fan since 1955 growing up in Baltimore. I have seen Unitas and Berry and all the great Colt players. My question to you is: Is it possible that Andrew is secretly throwing and we don't want the rest of the NFL to know this? As far fetched as this may seem I have seen far stranger things happen in sports.

Bowen: For sure. This time of year is the quietest in the NFL. Luck could very easily be throwing behind closed doors. Frankly, I would be surprised if it leaked that Luck is throwing right now, given how tight-lipped the Colts have been about the progress of No. 12. That's why I'm afraid the next real update we will get on Luck will come when the team reports for Training Camp no July 29.

Jordan G. (Laramie, WY)

Hi Kevin, its been awhile since I last Submitted a question so here it goes. I Have two.
Last season we had two young linebackers Antonio Morrison and Edwin Jackson. At the beggining of last season I was hearing a lot about these two guys and how one was slower than the other and one was better in run coverage. With that being said I really enjoyed watching these two young linebackers play. How have these two been doing in the off-season programs and do you think these two will start this upcoming season. Personally I would like to see these two develope into a great linebacker duo for the Colts. 

And with all of the hype surrounding the defense with the talent Ballard brought in. Do you see it plausible that the Colts defense will be able to come together and finally start to put some havoc on offenses? To keep the Colts in more ball games this year and possibly lead them to a very needed division title in what seems to be an up and coming divison. That will have competitive nature similar to the AFC North. Thank you Kelvin as always Go Colts!

Bowen: 1. At inside linebacker, I believe Jon Bostic is a favorite for one of the two starting ILBs spots. The Colts really like what Bostic showed in the spring and he looks to be back from his foot injury that sidelined him for all of 2016. The other spot is anyone's guess. Both Morrison and Jackson should, and are, in competition for that spot. Morrison is more of your run stuffer. Jackson has more speed and handled the defensive calls for the last four games in 2016. I really don't know who will emerge at the other ILB spot, but both of these young guys will have a shot to show their progression. 2. I do. As long as the communication aspect of things doesn't hinder the defense, it's a unit that should make some strides in 2017. The Colts don't need the defense to become a top 10-to-15 unit. Sure, that would be ideal. But as long as the defense can become around a 20th ranked unit, it's going to lead to more wins. The building of a new defense in Indy is underway, with the early returns needed in 2017.

Mack H. (Naperville, IL)

Hey Kevin, 
This is my first question after having read nearly every issue of the mailbag since the start of the Spring. I really appreciate the day in/day out evaluation of the team from a non-biased perspective. Anyways, my question is how do you think the injuries to some of our most important players (Moncrief, Luck, Geathers, Hooker, Wilson) affect how analysts view the team's outlook this season? Also, do you see all of these players making full recoveries and playing to their max potential? With the offense that we had last year, and a 30th ranked defense... I don't see how the upgrades that Ballard has made to the roster do not raise the Colts to above .500 win season especially with the "easiest" schedule of any team this season. Thanks!

Bowen: No problem, Mack. Really enjoy the mailbag twice a week. 1. I really don't think the injuries, outside of Luck, are impacting too many prognostications. I honestly think the national pundits just see the Colts hovering around .500, with the Texans and Titans the favorites atop the division. I'm sure they look at the defense as still a bottom-tier unit, with the offensive line not yet fixed. 2. Clayton Geathers is my only question out of your group. A neck injury is serious and it's nearly impossible to predict when/how he will return. That's easily my biggest worry of that quintet.

Jacob B. (Connersville, IN)

Hey Kevin. So I know it's still early but what happens if Luck is not ready for the trip to LA? What's the back up plan. The obvious answer is Scott Tolzien but I don't think he's the answer. He played okay in the steelers game but if you can think back to last preseason the third string QB look a lot better to me. More of a natural thrower and working with less talent. I think if Lucks not ready then l, I know a lot of people will criticize this but I want Kapearnick to start. It's the Rams a team he knows well and I think he is a starter in this league and his played in the super bowl and almost won it. He's more than capable of beating the rams and winning more games until Luck comes back. Even if it's just one game that one game could be the difference of making or missing the playoffs. Also Kap played well in week 16 last year that shows me he still has something left. Plus our offense is more talented than the 49ers. I think it's worth the shot especially in a worst case scenario. Also last question. Do you think Pat McAfee is a Hall of Famer? He was a very special punter in the little time he played. Is there any other Colts you think could be Hall of Famers current and Peyton era?

Bowen: 1. Under your scenario (Luck not ready for Week One), and after watching the offseason program, I would be really surprised if the starter against the Rams isn't Scott Tolzien. He was the guy taking the first-team reps in the spring and is clearly ahead of Stephen Morris on the depth chart. Was Tolzien outstanding against the Steelers last year? No. Did he do enough to keep his team in the game and possibly sneak out a win? Yes. The Colts obviously feel very comfortable with Tolzien being the emergency guy. I'm just fine with him taking over for a limited stint of time, if that is needed. Bringing in a veteran this time of year would be very difficult to get ready from a playbook standpoint. 2. I don't. McAfee was certainly one of the best punters in the NFL over the last couple of years. But longevity and sustained greatness is a must to enter the Hall of Fame. McAfee doesn't have that with only playing eight years. Plus, he's at a position that you rarely see receive much consideration. 3. Edgerrin James should still get in. It's going to take some time, but I believe James will be Canton-bound. Outside of that, it's going to be difficult for anyone else to get in. Reggie Wayne and Robert Mathis have compelling cases though and I'm intrigued to see how they are viewed once they appear on the ballot.

Marty A. (Alton, IL)

I was a Rams fan and attended very home game including preseason games. As we all know they left us high and dry! I struggle to pick my next team. In the end I chose the Colts! I follow the team very closely now. With that I have my eyes on game one! Do you feel Luck will be our starter at this point? I am starting to get worried that he is not going to be ready for the start of the season!

Bowen: I do think Andrew Luck will be under center for Week One. As long as he's throwing early in Training Camp, I think that should leave Luck enough time to be ready to go one to start the year. If the Colts felt uneasy about Luck being ready for Week One, I think they would have brought in a veteran during the spring to compete with Scott Tolzien. If Luck still isn't throwing by the first week of August, that's when my antennas are going fully up.

Joshua L. (Allen, TX)

Hello Kevin, how is the summer treating you so far? My only question for you this time is i see us keeping Jack Doyle, Eric Swoope and Darrell Daniels. I think Daniels could have easily been a 3rd round pick if Washington was a more pass based team. But with that being said he is a solid blocker and has some serious wheels. What are your opinions on him? I know College and the NFL are completely different but he has raw talent.

Bowen: Really good, Joshua. Had a great fourth! I know Chris Ballard is also very high on Darrell Daniels. For me, it's going to come down to if the Colts feel they have room for four tight ends. I think Brandon Williams is the early favorite for that third tight end slot. He's a veteran and received the occasional first-team rep during the spring. The raw talent is there for Daniels and he might have the best shot of any offensive undrafted free agent to make the team.

Dustin J. (Sioux Falls, SD)

Hey, Kevin. I was just wondering if you have got the real scoop on Quincy Wilson. He was so hyped up after the draft but I haven't heard anything positive since. The way they make it sound is as if he showed up to camp with zero accountability. Out of shape and struggling to grasp the concept. Yet Ballard and Pagano keep sugar coating the situation. Should we be worriedm

Bowen: I don't think you should be worried. It sounded like Wilson made some very nice progress through the offseason program. Check out these two articles on Wilson's progression: one from defensive coordinator Ted Monachino and one from Chris Ballard.

Cody L. (Chino Hills, CA)

Hi Kevin first time writer I think I can speak for everybody when I say we appreciate what you do for us during the offseason and all year around. I saw that Johnathan Hankins was working in the 3-technique correct me if I'm wrong but isn't he a more natural and overall better defensive lineman at the 0-technique over the center? These are Hankins PFF grades from 2013 through 2016 79.5, 85.9, 80.9, and 47.9 last years drop in performance had to do with the giants moving him to the 3-technique. So my question is will he play in the 3-technique for us or have I been perceiving this all wrong and we are putting him back in his more fitting position at 0-technique? Thank you Kevin.

Bowen: Cody, my pleasure. The Hankins' position debate is one that will be decided during Training Camp. Remember, that in New York, Hankins was playing in a 4-3 defense. Here in Indy, it's a 3-4 scheme. Honestly, it's probably going to depend on what the Colts have at the other defensive spots, more so than where Hankins best fits. I don't feel great about my answer, but I'll give you my thoughts. Not very confidently, I would put Hankins at nose. I think the depth at the other defensive line spots is greater, so the more pressing area to have Hankins play is at nose. That's my belief.

Ryan B. (Cheshire, UK)

Hi Kevin, haven't written for a couple of weeks but have read twice a week as per usual to keep up with my beloved Indianapolis Colts.

I saw a question in Saturday's mailbag about the most important Colts, and you listed Castonzo. I disagreed with this however, due to the fact that I think that Le'Raven Clark would step up at LT, which slides Joe Haeg over to RT, and Brian Scwenke joining at RG. While the lack of experience may be a difficulty, I have no doubt that these guys would step up to the plate, especially considering the slightly weaker schedule the Colts have this season. Of course, this is completely hypothetical and would only happen if Castonzo did get injured, but would like to hear your opinions.

In addition, we over here in the UK just got our hands on Gridiron UK (NFL magazine) with the Season Preview edition. As what is seeming like the norm this offseason, the writer had Indy completely written off for the season, saying we lack muscle on either side of the ball. Your thoughts?

Finally, do you think that Quincy Wilson may be able to snatch our ROY award from Malik Hooker depending on if he can slot himself into a starting position?

Thanks for taking the time to read my question, and for providing this every week for the Colts Nation.


Bowen: 1. Le'Raven Clark has never taken an NFL snap at left tackle. I can't recall any left tackle practice snaps for Clark either. That's why I put Castonzo's health/indispensability so high on the list. He's the only guy with any real experience at that spot. 2. The Colts have to prove themselves in the trenches this year. When you rank 30th in total defense the year prior, the questions are going to linger until you answer them. I understand the doubt from those on the outside. Having said that, I think the new bodies brought in this offseason will certainly alter that perception once you see the new-look defense on the field. 3. I don't. It's so hard for a cornerback to merit that type of award. You really need a defensive guy who makes impact plays (i.e. sacks/INTs). That's why guys like Myles Garrett or a Malik Hooker have better chances to win such awards. Now, if Wilson comes out and has three or four picks and plays at a high level, he's going to garner some attention. I just worry that he won't have enough game-changing plays to drive up DROY chatter.

Jack P. (Newburgh, NY)

Hi Kevin What are Dalton Crossan chances of making the team as UDFA?

Bowen: I think Dalton Crossan has a real chance to challenge for a roster spot. I could see the Colts keeping four running backs on their 53-man roster. Frank Gore, Robert Turbin and Marlon Mack are locks. After that, the Colts will have Josh Ferguson, Troymaine Pope and Crossan competing for that final ball carrier spot. Chris Ballard is high on Crossan, a versatile all-purpose back from New Hampshire. If Crossan shows a special teams presence later this summer, he's going to have a really realistic shot at sneaking onto the final roster.

Joshua L. (Camp Casey, South Korea)

Hey Kevin how are you doing? Going to be in Korea this football season so gonna be alot of long mondays for me haha. Anyways my question is, now that Grigson is gone can you see ua making more front office moves next off season? I would love to see Peyton take on a major role and i would like to see Robert Mathis as one of our Defensive coaches. They both make plenty of sense to me, and also are both going to be in the Hall of Fame. Build a strong front office and the Roster will likely follow suite? Yes or no? Thanks for your time Kevin! Take care buddy!

Bowen: Joshua, welcome from South Korea. Happy to have you following along. I can see more front office moves next offseason, but let's pump the breaks on Manning and Mathis just yet. There are several hurdles to clear before that talk becomes realistic. With Manning, what exactly does he want to do in post-football life. Does he want to own a team? Does he want to be a team president? Does he want to be a broadcaster? Yes, Jim Irsay loves Manning, but it's no slam dunk that a Manning/Colts reunion will happen. With Mathis, he's still not sure if coaching is definitely going to be in his future. Also, even if Mathis does decide he wants to coach, he's going to have to work his way up the coaching ladder to some degree. When I see Ballard making front office moves next year, I'm referring to more possible shuffling in the scouting department in his first full offseason as general manager.

Anthony T. (Philadelphia)

Hey Kevin, hope all is well with you and yours. I'm very appreciative, as I'm sure most fans are, that I'm able to get questions through. 

I'd first like to say, as a diehard fan, I have faith Andrew Luck will be under center week one. I do believe it when TY says he'll only need a few days to get in rhythm with the receiving core. In addition, I think the shoulder won't be an issue. It will just lie in the hands of the offensive line. 
(All my opinion)

I've been asking all spring and summer so far about specific players and the new GM and other things in that nature. My question this time around is who do you project to be on the practice squad this year? Follow up question off the top of my head, is the practice squad announced at the same time as the 53-man roster at the final cut? Thanks again. Go Colts!

Bowen: Same to you, Anthony. Oh boy, predicting the practice squad is nearly impossible at this time of year. The practice squad is announced in the day following final roster cuts. Teams have 24 hours to assemble their 10-man practice squad. Some names that come to mind for the practice squad: Stephen Morris, Dalton Crossan, Bug Howard, Darrell Daniels, Adam Redmond, Fahn Cooper, Jhaustin Thomas, Deiontrez Mount, Dante Blackmon, Luke Rhodes. These are just some guesses of guys that will be competing for the final roster spots.

Jay E. (North Carolina)

We've been getting a lot of updates about luck. It has been reported that he could start throwing now but isn't. But I want to know, How is Clayton geathers doing. I haven't heard any updates about anyone else beside luck.

Bowen: I want to know, too. Unfortunately, this time of year is crickets around the NFL. I wouldn't expect an update on Geathers until the Colts gather again for Training Camp on July 29. A neck is such a unique body part for an injury that it's hard to predict when the Colts will allow Geathers to handle contact. I don't think we are giving the Geathers' injury enough attention. This is a major issue, one we will look at on Colts UpClose this Saturday night on CBS4. I wish I had another answer, but I don't see us getting an update on Geathers until camp starts in two and a half weeks.

Jovon R. (Sharpsville, IN)

Hi Kevin, great job with the mailbag. I get my colts fix twice a week because of you. Keep it up. 
My question concerns the coaching. I have read that Offensive Coordinator Chudzinski does not have complex receiving routes or combinations in his offense. Should he? Would it help Luck if he did? Also I hear the Wide Receivers coach Sanjay Lal is very good. What are your thoughts of him.

Thanks for your time and hard work, it is appreciated.

Bowen: Thanks, Jovon. I haven't really thought that. I think what the Colts are trying to drill home this year with their receivers is offering more deception early in routes. Don't tip your hand to the defensive back on what might be coming from a route standpoint. You would think the more "complex" the routes, the longer it would take to develop, thus exposing Luck to more hits potentially. With Lal, I've been very impressed by what players have said about him already. From Sammy Watkins in Buffalo to T.Y. Hilton in Indianapolis, Lal's players really compliment their coach for his detail.

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