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Colts Wednesday Mailbag: What Does The Future Look Like At Running Back?

Intro: This Wednesday, mailbag readers inquire about the play of the 2016 draft class, the roles for Josh Ferguson/Curt Maggitt and the retirement of Peyton Manning’s number.

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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:Carac C. (Indianapolis)

Hi Kevin, I have a two part question. 1) With our o line playing on and off why don't we utilize Ferguson more when they're playing well like they did against Green Bay? 2) Last years draft was pretty good with geathers, Anderson, Good, and parry but do you believe there will be any key starters in the future from the 2016 draft? I just haven't seen any players we drafted flash as much as any of those players their rookie seasons?

Bowen: 1. We got a similar question about Ferguson below, so head down there for the answer. 2. With the 2016 Draft, it's clear Ryan Kelly and Joe Haeg are immediate starters. While we are talking about the offensive line, the future of Le'Raven Clark isn't as clear. That will be an offseason storyline to see just where the Colts think Clark is in the future picture up front. Where/how the Colts view Haeg's long-term projection will probably impact where Clark will get a look in 2017. Safety T.J. Green could be a full-time starter as early as next year. Fellow defenders Antonio Morrison and Hassan Ridgeway have more cloudy outlooks to see how things sift out in front of them. Morrison might be closer to a starting role than Ridgeway, but I don't think there's much separation. Basically, it would not shock me that come 2018, the Colts are starting 5-to-6 guys from the 2016 group.

Willie B. (Indianapolis)

Good job as always Kevin. I have watched a lot of college football this year and have no doubt that the colts should be able to address there needs in the upcoming draft. There appears to be an several players at positions of need ( OLB , ILB , RB , CB ) that could be available regardless of the colts draft position. What are your thoughts Kevin?

Bowen: Past readers of the mailbag should know that I'm a fan of the positions you have listed for 2017. How free agency goes could alter my list a little bit, but I don't see it fluctuating too much. Acquiring younger talent at all those positions is needed. Cornerback might be a little higher on my list, but I'm probably nitpicking too much there.

Mike C. (New Albany, IN)

It's been said curt maggit was one of the best pass rushers but he doesn't seem very good now. Is it because he needs development? I'd love to see him get much better at rushing.

Bowen: Development, better health and more reps are all things Curt Maggitt needs. An ankle sprain has sidelined Maggitt for two weeks. He returned for the Green Bay game but played just six defensive snaps. Maggitt has only had three games all year where he's logged more than 10 defensive snaps. Throw in the fact that a September 2015 hip injury ended his senior year at Tennessee (and was a big reason why he went undrafted), and that's why I think next offseason is a big one for Maggitt. His offseason training won't be all about rehabbing his hip. His development is a must when you consider the ages of Robert Mathis, Erik Walden and Trent Cole and all those guys entering contract years.

Alec G. (Bakersfield, CA)

Hey kevin 
I was wondering why have we stopped using josh ferguson? i feel he can become a darren sproles like player but he needs that playing time to develop and i know frank gore can do it all but sad to say he is not a long term solution to our running game. robert turbin has had some glimpses of star power but we dont know if he will be on the team next season if we decide to pick up a running back from the draft like larry rose 3 wink wink ha but anyways we need to think of the future of this team. 
Thank kevin for making us fans feel more involved.

Bowen: Josh Ferguson's snaps have really gone down offensively. I think the emergence of Robert Turbin is a big reason why. Turbin has really been an asset for this offense in the run and pass game. I understand your rationale in looking towards the future, but the Colts gave Ferguson a shot to show himself earlier this season and the production wasn't as consistent as we've seen it from Turbin. I still think Ferguson can be a unique weapon for this offense. But Turbin is a proven backup in this league who can fill several roles. It can be difficult for a team to involve three running backs in a specific game plan. Unless the Colts really feel the need to have more of a receiver out of the backfield, I can't see Ferguson all of a sudden taking a bigger role than what we've seen in recent weeks.

Victor M. (Sao Paulo, Brazil)

Hi Kevin, how are you this week?

I have a draft question, we all know RB is a top three draft need for the Colts, but what kind of back you think would be a better fit, a power back like Leonard Fournette or a quick, elusive guy like Christian McCaffrey?

For the record, I think specially these two guys would fit any offense, both freaks.

Bowen: I agree with your thinking, Victor. Both of those guys are going to fit into a variety of NFL offenses. I might lean more towards a power back when thinking about the long-term replacement for Frank Gore. I tend to think it's easier to find quicker/scat backs in a specific role, whereas getting a definite first/second down runner is a tad more difficult. But again, I'm still of the belief that patience would serve the Colts well in waiting on taking a running back come 2017.

Reginald J. (East St. Louis, IL)

My question Mr. Bowen is do the colts give any thoughts on possibly a new offensive coordinator? I think there offensive scheme is so plain! Andrew Luck has all the intangibles to run a wide open offense with the talented receivers they have! How about Mike Marsh for instance?

Bowen: Reginald, did you watch the Packers' game? I thought, with a healthy skill group intact, the creativity was evident all game long. Rob Chudzinski called a game where, when the fourth quarter came around, the Colts went for the win from an offensive standpoint. They continued to throw the football and even took some shots down the field. When this offense has had its skill group together under Chud (Denver last year, Detroit and Green Bay this season), the unit has flourished.

John L. (New Bedford, MA)

Read your reply on Jack Doyle last week.I think the colts made a big mistake in letting Fleener walk.Allen has had to many drops and seem to juggle the ball on passes that he does catch.Also his speed seem below average.He doesn't seem to very durable he misses games every year.So if it's a choice of keeping Doyle or cutting or moving Allen lets not make the same mistake we made with Fleener.So if we need in line blocking on some plays lets use a 5th OL men.Your thought on this please.

Bowen: It's just not that easy for the Colts to simply cut a player without taking into account the cap hit. When healthy, Dwayne Allen fits what the Colts want from the tight end position. Allen actually has fewer drops and a better catch percentage than Coby Fleener this year. The blocking idea just totally tips your hand in what you are trying to do from a run-game standpoint when using a sixth offensive lineman.

Linda E. (Derby, CT)

When is Peyton Mannings # going to be retired?

Bowen: Jim Irsay said back in March that no Colt would ever wear No. 18 again. I would guess the Colts will have some sort of dedication ceremony at a game next season once Manning's statue is unveiled outside of Lucas Oil Stadium.

Myra D. (Indianapolis)

Hi Kevin, just a couple of observations. I count on your posts as well as the mailbag for insightful discussions and really appreciate your work; so, thanks. Though you sent me off searching wondering what I'd missed when you mentioned we had lost all 3 AFC South contests so far. Did you want to see if we really pay attention! Stop it, I count on you too much! :-) I did happen notice that before we really secured the fumble in GB that a couple other players batted the ball including a packer so I think it was an okay call even if I don't like it. My real concern is Vonte's concussions; it seems like he goes in head first a lot more like a bullet than a wrap up tackler; reminds me a bit of Sanders; your opinion and should coach be trying to work on his tackling? I'd hat to lose him due to an early injury retirement for his sake.

Bowen: The Colts are currently 1-2 in the AFC South. That's a record that has to get at least to .500 and probably rise above it for the Colts to win the division. The Colts do have all three of their divisional games at home to close out the season. With Vontae, he's always been a very aggressive tackler in the open field. You rarely see him miss tackles when plays are needed to be made in space. Davis' concussion this season did not come from a tackle. It was a friendly fire hit from safety T.J. Green in an end-zone play against the Chiefs. In the last four years, Davis has missed just three games. And only one of those came via a concussion. I don't think how he tackles is a cause for concern as an early retiree option.

Jeff P. (Anderson, IN)

Hello Kevin . I have a 3 part ? . (1) After the bye week break which players do u think will be healthy an which ones will still be on the injury report . (2) Do u think anyone on the IR will be back soon ? . ( 3 ) Will the colts bring back any players from the injured with stellement group . ( OT Kevin Graf or CB D'Joun Smith ).

Bowen: 1. Jeff, here is the latest injury update after Monday's bonus practice. Also, the Colts are hoping to have Kendall Langford back to Wednesday's practice, in a limited role. 2. This is a good question. Quan Bray and Trent Cole are the two options. The Colts have really dodged the major, major IR casualty (so far) this season. I would guess the Colts would bring back one of them, but not sure where those two guys are injury wise with their rehabs. 3. This is another good question. I know the Colts did bring CB-Tevin Mitchel back to the practice squad. I'd guess cornerback/linebacker would be areas the Colts might explore down the stretch if some injuries occur.

Jason B. (Forest Park, GA)

I'm following numerous Colts players on social media apps, my question is why do they have social media apps if they don't use them regularly? I'm tired of being ignored when I leave comments on the content they post.

Bowen: Players (and even people in general) use their social media accounts in all sorts of ways. Looking at the amount of the comments/mentions some guys get on their Instagrams or Twitter is amazing. I can easily see why they do not respond to all of them, if any at all. Guys are not encompassed with their social media 24/7 at all. Personally, I enjoy guys who offer a little glimpse into the type of person they are away from football. Don't take offense when these guys do not respond. They can sometimes get hundreds of responses on a post.

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