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Colts Wednesday Mailbag: Which "Dark Horses" Could Make The Final 53-Man Roster?

Intro: This Wednesday, mailbag readers inquire about the X-factors for the 2016 Colts, Andrew Luck's mobility and who might start next to D’Qwell Jackson at inside linebacker.

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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:Jonathan T. (Indianapolis)

In your opinion, what makes this year's Colts team more lethal than the one's of recent? I feel like this year we should a more of a balance on offense with run/pass plays. But defensively what do you think we should do more/less of? #horseshoemafia

Bowen: I agree with your feelings on the offense. I really believe the skillset at the wide receiver position is going to allow for things to open up underneath. That should be music to the ears of Frank Gore and even Dwayne Allen in the passing game. On defense, the addition of Patrick Robinson is where things should start. Yes, we've heard all about Ted Monachino being a pressure guy and his pedigree in the front seven is impressive. However, Robinson is a guy that can individually impact both what happens up front and how the Colts defend via the pass. Look at the Colts' schedule. There's no shortage of Pro Bowl receivers. Getting consistency from Robinson is really going to enhance the overall play of the entire unit. I'd argue Robinson (and the corner play in general) might be the most important key for the defense in 2016.

Alex G. (Osgood, IN)

Hey Kevin. I'm gonna make this short and sweet. Perhaps this question has come up already, but who do you think could emerge as that "dark horse" candidate during Traing Camp that might be able to sneak his way onto the 53 man roster?

Bowen: If people read the mailbag, I think most fans will realize I'm pretty intrigued about undrafted running back Josh Ferguson. Let's go with him as my "dark horse" to make the team on offense. As we flip over to the other side of the ball, I'm going to stay with the undrafted guys. Outside linebacker Curt Maggitt is a player I will be watching. Maggitt had 11.5 sacks as a junior at Tennessee. If Maggitt is back fully healthy, the Colts could really use a young pass rusher on the 53-man roster.

Dan K. (Benton Harbor, MI)

Is A. Luck going to be more restricted from leaving the pocket or running this year?

Bowen: I don't think we are going to see restrictions on how Luck operates from a running standpoint. It's up to Luck to know when enough is enough. The Colts have talked about moving Luck around a bit within Rob Chudzinski's offense. Of course, that stuff is scripted. It's the unscripted plays that Luck will have to moderate himself on when the right time is no. On another note, I was just up in Benton Harbor playing golf over July 4th. A beautiful layout at Harbor Shores. Tremendous views.

Paul M. (Pittston, PA)

Hi Kevin, I know you answered this question in the weekend edition of your mailbag. Do you really honestly feel that Thorton and Reitz can do the job. With those guys still there I feel that teams will just attack from the right side.

Bowen: Let's start with Joe Reitz. I think he showed last year that he's still a very capable starting lineman in the NFL. Thornton is more of the X-factor because he has struggled with his consistency in three NFL years. The Colts are hoping a slimmed down Thornton will have his best year yet. This is a contract year for Thornton so there's obvious incentive down that road, too. Let's not rule out Denzelle Good either. This staff continues to talk about Good and he could very easily challenge Thornton for the starting right guard spot.

Richard P. (Rochester, NY)

Hi Kevin, I have read a few articles mentioning the Colts as one of a few teams who could acquire Moe Wilkerson now even after signing Andrew. As we know Ryan has traded high draft picks in the past and Moe certainly has proved himself to be an elite player in the league. He is only 26 like Andrew and the Jets need cap space. Given Art Jones injury history and Henry Anderson coming off an ACL injury as well I would think Moe would be a player they would have a strong interest in. I would be interested in your thoughts. Thanks

Bowen: On paper, I definitely see where such a move would make sense. The 2016 defensive line group for the Colts could look vastly different depending on the health/productivity of Jones and Anderson. If those two guys are healthy for a majority of 2016, then that really strengthens the depth in the defensive trenches. My worry would be is such a trade just a one-year rental? The Colts haven't managed the cap to all of a sudden sign a player like Wilkerson to a substantial deal. Wilkerson is a free agent next year and another promising year will obviously lend to a big payday.

Jack Y. (Wilmette, IL)

I have been hearing rumors the Broncos may be interested in trading Von Miller if they can't agree to a deal. Would the Colts be in the market to acquire him? Is there anyone we could plausibly trade that could free up enough room?

Bowen: I think the chances of this happening are very, very, very, very, very slim. Having two players take up that much cap space is virtually impossible around the NFL. Also, I couldn't see the Broncos trading Von Miller to an AFC team, if that route was even explored.

Carac C. (Indianapolis)

Hi Kevin, I know a few mailbags ago you said that pass rushers and running back were the two most needed areas. My question is what would you say needs improvement next?

Bowen: I would just say general depth on the defensive side of the ball. The more influx of young talent there, the better. On offense, the Colts have several major pieces already locked up on long-term deals. The same can't be said on the defensive side of things. Ideally, the Colts would have a bit of a domino effect on defense from draft classes, which really started in 2015.

Phillip O. (Kingston, GA)

Hi Kevin thanks for interacting with fans and giving your opinions. My question is about the MLB position. I've seen the names Moore and Irving alot for the other spot opposite Dqwell. but what about McNary or Herrera? I believe both of these guys are younger. Do you give Irving and Moore the edge just due to experience or are they running with the 1st unit? the competition fot this spot should be interesting.

Bowen: Sio Moore and Nate Irving ran with the first unit during the entire offseason program. The two were even in the starting 11 together at times with D'Qwell Jackson (hamstring) sidelined. You couple that with Irving and Moore having a decent amount of starting experience in the NFL and that's why they are the favorites for the starting spot beside Jackson. Josh McNary and Amarlo Herrera (a 2015 sixth-round pick) will battle to fill out the depth at inside linebacker. Let's not forget about Antonio Morrison, this year's fourth-round pick. The staff is extremely high on Morrison, who missed the entire offseason program with a hamstring injury. This position does have some depth, but the most important question heading into Anderson is who will emerge as a starter.

Paul R. (Fort Wayne, IN)

Hi Kevin, I'm a big fan of the mailbag and appreciate all of the hard work you put into answering so many questions. This is my first entry, so I have two questions I want to ask (non-Colts related).

  1. With fantasy football coming up pretty soon, who are some of your sleeper picks in the league, and potential breakouts as well?
  1. I was also a big fan of "FanDuel Fantasy Focus" last year on the Colts app. Can we expect to see that again in 2016? I realize Steve is no longer with the organization :(

Thanks again, and GO COLTS!!!

Bowen: 1. For the Colts I really think the offensive skill guys aren't being talked about enough. Everyone knows what the Colts have at the receiver position and that speed. What that opens up is plenty of open field underneath. That's where Dwayne Allen and Frank Gore come into play. I'd expect Allen to be a nice red-zone target, like he was in 2014 with eight touchdowns. Also, don't forget that last season Gore caught the most passes he's had in five years. Both of those guys should be assets in the receiving game. 2. As of right now, the plan is to have "FanDuel Fantasy Focus" back for another year. I know I really enjoyed the debut season of it last year (even if I did lose the year-long battle to Steve in Week 17!).

Stan C. (Minneapolis)

Hey Kevin! With Pokemon Go taking the world by storm, is there anyone with the team who has been playing or talking about it? The thought of Pat McAfee wandering around and swiping his phone furiously would make my day!

Bowen: I thought I was seeing things when I first read this question. No Kevin, the Pokemon Go craze has indeed infiltrated this week's mailbag. Well, there's actually one player that I know has to be loving this. That's inside linebacker Nate Irving. It doesn't take long to scroll through Irving's Twitter and see how much he loves Pokemon.e Irving.

Tyler R. (Fort Wayne, IN)

Hello kevin,

First off, lets make this obvious. We all would love your job. That leads into my first question this week.

I would like to know how you came about working for the colts. (All the questions about the colts. Let the fans know about you since you do so much for us enthusiasts.)

Also, i remember Nate Irving in dever before the injury and his name was mentioned alot. I know its up in the air so far at that positon but im hoping that he can be one off the sleeper/breakout players for our defense this year that people forgot about. Thoughts?

With how the organization has preached continuity i can see the right side of the line going with the vets to start the season. That being said, we tend to get lucky with the bye week every year coming in the middle of the season. In my limited knowledge i predict a line-up change on that side after that with one of the rookies. Would you agree?

Bowen: Tyler, I'm very fortunate to have the job that I do. I grew up in central Indiana and attended Indiana University. At IU, I wrote for the Indiana Daily Student (covered the 2012 men's basketball team making it to the Sweet Sixteen). While in college, I began interning with the Colts during my junior year. That eventually led to a full-time gig with the Colts. From transcribing post-game quotes back in 2010, to now serving as the beat writer (along with the occasional TV/radio appearances), it's been a thrill. Now, onto the football. You and D'Qwell Jackson think alike. Ask Jackson about Nate Irving and he brings up those Denver days back in 2014. Jackson was impressed by Irving then. And now the two could be starting together two years later in Indy. I'm anxious to see what a healthy Irving looks like in his "new" body. I could certainly see Irving being a breakout sort of player for the Colts. In terms of a lineup change for the offensive line, it's difficult to predict that so late in the season. I really think that the Colts won't have to call on a rookie lineman (not named Ryan Kelly) to enter the lineup this season. Ideally, you would have a grooming period for the likes of Le'Raven Clark, Joe Haeg and Austin Blythe, before they potentially take on bigger roles in the future.

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