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Colts Wednesday Mailbag: Which Position Groups Have Made Big Strides This Offseason?

Intro: This Wednesday, mailbag readers inquire about Andrew Luck’s contract situation, the wide receiver depth and Tyler Varga’s chances of making the team again in 2016.

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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:Nick V. (California)

With Andre Johnson being gone next year, do you feel we should pick up another skilled receiver? I mean I know we have Hilton, Moncrief, and Dorsett, but what after? And what if one of those guys gets injured?

Bowen: Chuck Pagano has been asked this very question a couple of times during the offseason program. With a tight salary cap, the Colts will look to two specific areas in completing their wide receiver group. Earlier this offseason, the Colts went out and signed Josh Boyce and Brian Tyms. These two have played in the NFL before and are the early favorites to fill out the position in Indy. Both have seen first-team action with Donte Moncrief sidelined this offseason. Pagano is also very high on the undrafted class of wide receivers the Colts have brought in. Quan Bray, last year's return man, is another name to throw into this group. Again without an endless budget, the Colts had to allocate resources this offseason with bigger needs elsewhere. This year's fourth wide receiver isn't going to have a ton of accolades and likely won't be needed too much unless an injury does occur to Hilton, Moncrief or Dorsett.

Matthew H. (Iowa)

This past season Griff Whalen was a guy who could go underneath and make some nice catches and sometimes take a big hit. We have already got 3 speedy receivers in Hilton, Moncrief, and Dorsett. Who do you see as a big guy who could make some of those underneath catches this year other than Dwayne Allen? We can't totally rely on Dwayne Allen too much because his durability has been questioned.

Bowen: I believe the Colts will be relying on Allen a lot for this role. With the speed of the names above at receiver, the middle of the field and accompanying underneath routes should be favorable to the Colts. Allen will be a beneficiary. Besides Allen, I see the running back position once again being involved in the passing game. The Colts had an emphasis on that last season. In turn, Frank Gore caught 34 balls last year, the most he has had since 2010. Check downs to the running backs can be a staple of the passing game.

Tyler R. (Fort Wayne, IN)

I was wondering why there hasnt been much talk about Tyler Varga this year. I know we brought some guys in but before his injury last year he looked like he had some potential.

Bowen: Tyler Varga will certainly be in the running back mix up at Training Camp. There's been a few newcomers join the running back group, so they've received a little more attention with Varga returning for a second season. If Varga can expand on the flashes he showed last season, he's going to challenge for a roster spot.

Martin B. (Westbury, NY)

Andrew Luck contract ?

What is update on it ? Or is Owner don't want spend the money. ?

Bowen: Martin, the latest update on Andrew Luck and his contract situation came about a month ago. The hope is to get something done by around Training Camp, with no hard deadline coming until next March.

Destin A. (Anderson, IN)

Does Eric Swoope have the opportunity to get more snaps than Doyle

Bowen: Right now, Dwayne Allen and Jack Doyle are the top two tight ends on the Colts roster. Chuck Pagano explained this a few weeks back. Swoope is going to be in the middle of the competition to round out the tight end group. However, for now, Doyle is definitely in that No. 2 slot. He has played a plethora of roles in his three previous seasons with the Colts. Swoope has played just one NFL game. It's going to take a lot for Swoope to supplant a guy like Doyle, who this staff loves.

Stan C. (Minneapolis)

Hey Kevin! Sorry to throw another OL question your way, but I saw something in the Star recently that sparked my curiosity.

I've read that Joe Haeg has been spending nearly all of his offseason snaps at guard, while Le'Raven Clark has spent the vast majority of his snaps at tackle. Clark playing mostly tackle isn't terribly shocking, as while his raw technique may suggest that he should start at guard before moving to tackle, the right guard group is crowded enough that him playing tackle isn't too surprising.

However, I was taken aback by the usage of Haeg. As a swing tackle reminiscent of a smaller Joe Reitz, I had plugged him in as a very sensible backup tackle. Not only is tackle a much more open positional group, but playing him at guard would move him away from his strengths (mental game and technique) and towards his weaknesses (core strength and anchoring). All in all, the decision strikes me as rather puzzling.

Now, to be fair, this is incredibly early in the offseason. Should we dismiss this as simple early tinkering around, or is this a storyline we should follow throughout the summer? And if we SHOULD take note, does this have implications for Hugh Thornton as he tries to carve a spot for himself against a squad of young players who are far more versatile than he is?

Bowen: This is a storyline we should follow for several reasons. First, the Colts just don't have many natural guards on the roster. Take away last year's starters (Jack Mewhort and Hugh Thornton) and the Colts have to build some depth in the interior. Thornton has been out the entire offseason program, hence the reason for experimenting with Jonotthan Harrison and Joe Haeg at guard. Haeg only played tackle in college, but ever since he was drafted the Colts have mentioned their thinking that he could play in the interior. This offseason program has allowed for that. Remember, when game days arrive the Colts will need backups who can play multiple positions. With the lack of proven guard depth, moving guys like Harrison and Haeg around this time of year should be more than expected.

Kade M. (Texas)

We all know that the offensive line has been the most improved group this offseason. What other group has made major strides?

Bowen: There a couple of position groups that come to mind. On offense, I really think the running back position could have some quality depth behind Frank Gore. If Robert Turbin can return to the form we saw in Seattle, the Colts will have a proven/durable backup running back for the first time in a while. Then behind Turbin, there are some intriguing change of pace options that could give the running backs a different look. On defense, I point to the defensive line and secondary. The defensive line caveat will depend on the health of Arthur Jones and Henry Anderson. In the defensive backfield, Patrick Robinson should really solidify the cornerback spot opposite Vontae Davis. Then at safety, Clayton Geathers joins the starting lineup with plenty of potential.

Cameron E. (Cincinnati, OH)

My question is about the London game against Jacksonville. Will you be making the trip across the pond for this piece of Colts history?

Bowen: Cameron, I will be in London in October for the Colts making history overseas. For many reasons, I'm really looking forward to this trip. Judging by my small interactions with fans (on Twitter and in the mailbag), it seems like the Colts have a nice brand already built in Europe. That should expand after they play there this season.

Silas S. (Shelbyville, IN)

We all know that the offensive line has been the most improved group this offseason. What other group has made major strides?

Bowen: There are a couple of position groups that come to mind. On offense, I really think the running back position could have some quality depth behind Frank Gore. If Robert Turbin can return to the form we saw in Seattle, the Colts will have a proven/durable backup running back for the first time in a while. Then behind Turbin, there are some intriguing change of pace options that could give the running backs a different look. On defense, I point to the defensive line and secondary. The defensive line caveat will depend on the health of Arthur Jones and Henry Anderson. In the defensive backfield, Patrick Robinson should really solidify the cornerback spot opposite Vontae Davis. Then at safety, Clayton Geathers joins the starting lineup with plenty of potential.

Dashawn J. (Savannah, GA)

Any chance the colts bring in terror beckham or is he not as impressive as we where led to believe?

Bowen: I think it's the latter point. Terron Beckham had a tryout with the Jets but didn't make the team. It looks like the experiment of Odell Beckham Jr.'s cousin trying the NFL has vanished.

Jacob H. (Fullerton, CA)

Kevin,

Finish this sentence: "The Colts go to the Superbowl if.."

Bowen: No holding back here from Jacob. I don't know if I have enough words to cover what needs to happen to completely answer this question. Let's start with the AFC. As we sit here today, I don't think there's one clear-cut favorite. New England could be without Tom Brady for a quarter of the season. That would impact their ability to secure home field in the playoffs. The AFC North always seems to have contending teams, yet many haven't made deep playoff runs as of late. Denver will be working in a new quarterback. So, let's chat the Colts. Protection up front is a must. If the line can fortify itself, that will let the talent at the skill positions to put this unit back into the top-10 of offenses in the NFL. Defensively, to me, it comes down to the secondary play offering a complement to the edge rushers. In improving the pass rush this season, a blanketing secondary is going to be a huge component to what the Colts can get done in the defensive front. If this team can get more consistent line play and in the secondary, I think it will be back above 10 wins and challenging for a playoff run to Houston (site of Super Bowl XLI). I also believe being the "hunter" versus the "hunted" will serve this team better, similar to 2012.

Jeremy S. (Rochester, IN)

Mr.Bowen

Just like everyone in COLTS Nation thank you for everything you do to hold us off during OTAs mini camp and soon training camp next month we all respect you.

My question is unique so I believe you will answer me .well hopefully. During our home games our introduction theme has been AC/DC. If they stick with this theme how about Thunder struck to get us loud instead of Hells Bells??

Thank you and hopefully see you in Anderson!!

Bowen: My pleasure, Jeremy. The music at Lucas Oil Stadium is something the organization always is looking for outside opinion on, so I will forward your thoughts to the powers that be. Tradition might be hard to break though.

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