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:Nick T. (North Carolina)
If Andrew Luck recovers before the regular season is over will he play
Bowen: This question was asked of Chuck Pagano on Monday and the head coach didn't leave any doubt in his answer: "Andrew is our starting quarterback and when he is healthy and he is 100 percent healthy and the doctors and our trainers say he is ready to roll then he is going to be under center." I think people forget that Luck had his best game of 2015 against the league's top-ranked defense (Denver), playing through a lacerated kidney in the fourth quarter. That win over Denver was desperately needed for a Colts team coming off then three straight losses and a short week after a trip to Carolina.
Blake M. (Mt. Washington, KY)
I was very excited when I saw that frank gore went into free agency last offseason and even more excited when I saw that the colts picked him up but it doesn't seem that he is playing at the level that he did in San Fran I know he has a few miles on him but what do you think needs to happen to get him playing at that caliber again I mean come on 24 yards on 19 carries he is a better back than that
Bowen: In the past four weeks, Gore has averaged just 2.5 yards per carry (83 carries for 211 yards). As Chuck Pagano said on Monday, Gore is "beat to crap" toughing it out through nagging injuries. The Colts need Gore and that became even more obvious after Ahmad Bradshaw went on injured reserve earlier this week. Gore is a better back than he showed on Sunday, but he was also running behind a new-look offensive line against a top-10 run defense. Even with facing four of the top 12 ranked run defenses the past four weeks, new offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski hasn't strayed from trying to establish the run. The threat of Gore is still benefiting the offense. The Colts hit on numerous play-action passes against the Bucs. His 1,000-yard pace has dropped in recent weeks. However, Gore is still giving the Colts a steady (durable) lead back, something that hasn't happened for this team in nearly a decade. Pagano made it clear on Monday that getting Gore and the run game back on track is extremely important down the stretch with road/hostile/unfriendly weather potentially waiting for the Colts.
Isak H. (Mexico City)
Hi! First, congrats on the win. Second, do you expect Matt Hasselbeck and Adam Vinatieri to return next year?
Bowen: Isak, I think this question is going to depend on those guy's individual decisions. They've clearly shown in 2015 that they are playing ascending football, something that just doesn't happen when NFL players reach their 40s. Both are free agents next year and neither has given a real strong stance one way or another on their status for 2016. For Vinatieri, there's obviously a desire to earn a fifth Super Bowl ring, which would tie an NFL record. For Hasselbeck, there's that elusive Super Bowl that he continues to chase at the age of 40. At the same time, you can't blame either of them if they choose to hang it up given their illustrious careers. My guess is if those two want to come back in 2015, the Colts are definitely going to want them back. They've gone above and beyond their worth, again, this season.
Zack B. (Indianapolis)
Will Boom Herron be the #2 back or 3? I hope he is #2!
Bowen: Boom Herron is going to be the No. 2 back going forward. Zurlon Tipton will be the No. 3 back and play mostly a special teams role. What the Colts are really going to miss in Ahmad Bradshaw heading on injured reserve is what he provided this team on the money-down. Bradshaw was exceptional on third-down, serving as a great outlet in the receiving game along with being a tremendous blocker. Herron has shown that he can more than handle the receiving duties after he caught 20 passes during last year's playoffs (fourth most in team history). If Herron can protect on those downs, too, the drop off shouldn't be too immense from Bradshaw.
Simon B. (Greenville, NC)
Do you anticipate any potential changes among the Colts WR corps, since this group has been the most disappointing facet of this year's offensive team ?Secondly , in your opinion is the potential pass catching tandem of Phillip Dorsett & Donte Moncrief more or less attractive than TY Hilton & Andre Johnson ?Thanks Kevin for your response. Go Colts !
Bowen: Considering this group is coming off arguably their best game of 2015, I don't see any changes to the reps for that group. The trend lately has been more and more work for Donte Moncrief and T.Y. Hilton, with Andre Johnson/Griff Whalen more in that third wideout role. Whalen has actually played more on third down in recent weeks. Now, when Phillip Dorsett comes back (should be soon with Chuck Pagano listing him as "day-to-day"), that's really going to complicate the snap counts at that position. The more attractive tandem in my opinion is a combination of Hilton and Moncrief and then the rest of the group sprinkled in. Hilton and Moncrief give you true No. 1 threats that were near their best in Sunday's 25-12 victory.
Wyatt M. (League City, TX)
Hey Kevin, is it possible that Andrew Luck is out for more than 6 weeks or is it definitive that he will be back by the Miami game at the latest?
Bowen: There's been no indication that Luck is going to miss more than six weeks from the original (two-to-six week) timetable that started on 11/10. If Luck does miss the entire six weeks, his return would come in the regular season finale against the Titans (1/3). Again, it's just hard to assess a concrete return date when you are dealing with the recovery of an organ. Chuck Pagano still lists Luck as "week-to-week" so this injury is going to be at the backend of the time frame that was first announced. "In Matt Hasselbeck we trust", will remain the motto for Colts fans, one that has led to four wins in four starts this season.
Paul M. (Pittston, PA)
What's the odds that the Colts finally sit Toler.Since his return he has allowed over 90 yds a game in 6 games. That's not starting caliber corner play.
Bowen: Paul, there's been no indication that there will be any changes within the cornerback rotation. Vontae Davis, Greg Toler and Darius Butler continue to log virtually every defensive snap possible among the cornerback group. In past weeks, Josh Thomas and D'Joun Smith have really only filled in because of injury. Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky has said that the cornerback play for the Colts has to get better and that's going to be tested to the fullest this weekend with arguably the league's best wide receiver group. A lot of fans have wanted to see more of Smith, but I don't think the Colts feel totally comfortable (right now) throwing him out there in a starter type role when he's played just two NFL games. He's still very young in his game/practice experience compared to another secondary rookie in Clayton Geathers.
Dave H. (Sebring, FL)
WITH STEELERS COMING UP.HOW CAN THIS COLTS TEAM,GET IT TOGETHER ON GETTING OFF TO QUICKER AND FASTER STARTS IN GAMES WE GOT TO GETTING THIS TEAM CLICKING FROM START TO FINISH? NOT WAIT, TILL THE SECOND HALF. LIKE WE HAVE DONE!WE MUST WIN OUT AND PLAY AND PLAY GREAT THE WHOLE GAME EVERY GAME
Bowen: In the Colts last two road contests, early turnovers have really hindered anything the offense has tried to get going from the start. Then on Sunday, it was just finishing off early offensive drives that led to the Colts halftime deficit. The environment will likely be the most hostile the Colts have seen in 2015. A night game in Pittsburgh, against a Steelers team in the middle of the AFC playoff picture, is going to be reminiscent of what the Colts will have to see in January to make any postseason run.
Stan C. (Minneapolis, MN)
I've been very critical of Ryan Grigson, but credit where credit is due: seeing a D-II player from a school no one knew existed in the 7th round go on and be a very capable spot starter was impressive. Denzelle Good played beyond expectations. It's only one game, so we should temper our excitement, but seeing any productivity out of a 7th rounder is incredible.
The future of the Colts O-line past this season is clear: Castonzo and Mewhort on the left, Vadal Alexander from LSU seems a perfect fit in the draft's first round at RG, either draft a 3rd-5th round center (Tuerk, Martin, Allen, Voltz, and Pocic come to mind) or try your hand at a FA center (Wisniewski?), and use Reitz while bringing along Good at RT.
In the short term, though, Good's performance is intriguing. The Colts have long preferred Reitz as a "6th man", a versatile swing lineman who can reserve in a pinch on either side. If we continue to see Good play well, would the team continue starting him so they can put Reitz back in the role that they prefer for him?
Bowen: Stan, Good's performance is definitely intriguing. The Colts have longed for a young tackle to kind of groom and Good appears to be the closest thing they've had to that. I do think once Castonzo returns to health, Reitz is going to be the starter at right tackle. Reitz has earned that and his play at left tackle in Sunday's win over Tampa Bay shouldn't be overlooked. It's just one game for Good but the Colts have three tackles they obviously feel comfortable with in the starting lineup, something that is a rarity around the NFL. This "project" of Good is certainly further along than it should be for the second-to-last pick from a Division II school, who just made his NFL debut in Week 11 of the season.
Chad H. (Greenfield, IN)
Has there ever been a superbowl team to ever win a superbowl in there own respective stadium,if so who,Thanks Bleedin blue for life.
Bowen: Chad, there has never been a Super Bowl team to even play in their home stadium, let alone win. That doesn't look to be happening this year with San Francisco sitting at 3-8 through 12 weeks.