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:Chris G (Williamsburg, VA)
With the injury to Art Jones (again) is it possible the Colts look to pick up a player as a solution or band aid for the time being. Or do you think that will roll with Anderson heading into the regular season? Thank you!
Bowen: This question all depends on the severity of Jones' injury and the rest of the Colts health. The Colts look to be pretty healthy heading into the regular season so they shouldn't have too many guaranteed inactives Week One due to injury. Now, I fully expect Ryan Grigson and his staff to peruse that waiver wire this weekend. In the past three seasons, the Colts have found a significant contributor off that waiver wire following final cuts (2012-Sergio Brown, 2013-Jack Doyle, 2014-A.Q. Shipley). Maybe one of the deeper defensive lines in the NFL cuts a quality player the Colts feel can fit their scheme. Chuck Pagano was very pleased with what Anderson showed on Saturday filling in for Jones but you need depth up front.
Michelle M (Fort Wayne)
Hi kevin, please answer this as best u know. Does ryan grigson, jim irsay, and coach pagano read the colts mailbag, the questions from us fans? Just wondering if they see the frustration from us fans. Every year we say protect andrew luck, stop the run, yet we pick up injury prone players and even tho we won our 3rd preseason game, did u notice how quick andrew luck had to release the ball so he wouldn't get hit? I guess what I'm asking is every year we have the same problem is this something that us colts fans should just get used to? Ty
Bowen: Michelle, I'm going to guess the Colts brass is a little busy this time of year to read the mailbag questions. Rest assured, they know the areas that need to be improved on this team and you mentioned two of them. As far as the injury prone players, if you are referring to Arthur Jones, I think that's unfair judgment. He had missed a total of four games the previous three seasons before coming to Indianapolis (a pretty low number for a guy in the trenches). From a pass protection standpoint, I thought the offensive line was much better in Week Three of the preseason. Against an elite Rams defensive front, the Colts allowed no sacks and just two quarterback hits in the first half. I don't think anyone wants "to get used to" inconsistencies in the pass protection and run defense areas. The Colts staff wants fans to continue to see a perennial playoff team with the chance to reach the Super Bowl year in and year out.
Dan Anderson (Muncie, IN)
So what do you think the chances are that both Henry Anderson and David Parry both start week 1?
Bowen: Dan, I'm going to say there is a chance of that happening and it's getting better the later we go into the preseason. While I don't think both will start Week One, I do expect Anderson to be filling in up front, if Arthur Jones is sidelined. The Parry/nose tackle debate seems to still be undecided. Josh Chapman has continued to start at that spot in the preseason but the Colts are clearly throwing other bodies in the mix with the first unit. As of now, I see Chapman still as the starter there, but expect Parry to see plenty of work when the regular season rolls around.
Thomas Kates (Bogalusa, LA)
Do you believe the Colts GM and coaches have it offensively right by basing a player immediate production for this year rather than relying on last year production to decide who should be your back up running back or starter?
Is Frank Gore expendable?
Or is it possible the colts need some young fresh legs supporting a Championship run?
Bowen: Thomas, I think the Colts backfield has an ideal mix for what this offense is looking for from a balance standpoint. The addition of Gore was critical this offseason. The Colts now have a back well respected around the NFL, and one that, despite his age, is coming off a 2014 season where he finished his last two games with more than 140 rushing yards in each. Behind Gore, the Colts have a nice change of pace back who handled an unexpected role quite well last season. Boom Herron brings a burst to the running back group that could serve the offense quite well when Gore needs a breather. With the attention the Colts pass catchers are going to garner on the outside, Gore and Herron should have chances to flourish in 2015.
Adam Hampton (Ithaca, NY)
Okay, so my question is about the Colts pass rush this season. Robert Mathis is one of my favorite players of all time, he's an incredible OLB...but I was wondering with him back hopefully returning to his beast performance level, do you think guys like Trent Cole and Jonathan Newsome can hover around that 10-12 sack range to help get this colts defense near another 45-50 sack season?? I know predicting sack totals is nearly impossible, but I'm just very excited and curious to see the pass rush...Thank you very much!
Bowen: Adam, this is a great question and one I'm going to take a closer look at over the weekend. To start, I don't think Cole or Newsome will reach double-digits, largely because of the other bodies coming off the edge. If Mathis can get back on the field early in the year he's obviously going to be taking up some of those potential sacks that Cole and Newsome might gobble up. Then you have Erik Walden, who has looked very, very impressive off the edge this preseason. With those four guys, I think you really have some different options to turn to in obvious pass rushing situations. I could see the Colts right around the 45-sack number this year even if you only have one player reach the double-digit number.
Sophia Ballard (Albion, IL)
Hi Kevin, How many wide receivers do you think will make the 53 man roster? If we keep 6 do you think Griff Whalen will be one of those 6?
Bowen: It's been a while since we've had a Griff Whalen/roster question enter the mailbag. They are back this week with final cuts coming Saturday. The Colts did keep six wide receivers after final cuts last year with Whalen making the roster. I could see five or six making the team this year with Whalen having a very good chance if the latter number is kept. The key for Whalen in Thursday night's preseason finale is another solid game from a receiving standpoint, and more importantly, showing himself to be too valuable on special teams to cut. The bigger question for me comes with if the Colts keep five or six wideouts. Injury questions at other spots might cause a numbers crunch at receiver.
Tom Trani (Bullhead City, AZ)
Kevin I have been a avid colts fan since 1954. The nfl has a max salary for rookie 1st rounders,but in Rd 2 thru 7 is thier and restrictions per round on what can be paid.if not the colts could have taken la'el Collins with thier late 7th rounder and offered him 3rd Rd money.either way they should have taken him and let him decide if he wanted to sit a year or not.
Bowen: Tom, the new CBA has a rookie pay scale throughout the draft. There was obviously plenty of reservation from all 32 NFL teams to pass on Collins throughout the seven-round selection process back in May. Ryan Grigson said on local radio last month that the Colts "went to the N'th degree" in then pursuing Collins following the draft. I can't say I fault Collins for wanting to stay close to home and playing for arguably the league's top offensive line in Dallas.
Oliver Boulton (Northampton, England)
What are the chances of Harrison being slid over to guard / backup guard as well as backup center? I think most fans would agree Harrison has the physical traits to be a center but his problem comes on the mental / cerebral side of the center position (blown assignments / snaps etc).
What are the chances he is converted into a guard? This could help to cover some of the cerebral mistakes he is making as the center? I've never played any of the o-line positions and I won't claim to be an expert there by any means, but by all accounts I have seen playing guard is easier mentally than tackle or center.
Bowen: I don't see Harrison being permanently moved to guard. In a pinch, Harrison could definitely play there (like he did last year in the regular season finale). The Colts have no real backup behind Khaled Holmes at center so Harrison is still going to be a center on this roster. With the guard depth a little scarce right now (due to Hugh Thornton's injury), Harrison is certainly in the mix there if an injury were to happen. This could be the case come the regular season, too, when you typically only dress around 7-8 linemen, forcing flexible options among your backups.