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Colts Wednesday Mailbag: Who Will Fill In For Jack Mewhort At Left Guard?

Intro: This Wednesday, mailbag readers inquire about how Stevan Ridley impacts the running back depth, if any young pass rushers are emerging and the play of the offensive line this preseason.

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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:Joshua B. (Little Point, IN)

Hey Mr. Bowen! Thanks for answering my last questions, and for that matter everyone's. Just so you know I had already drafted Allen on all my fantasy teams lol. To my question. With Jack Mewhort getting hurt against the Eagles(at this time the extent is not yet known), and with Andrew Luck hitting the turf numerous times the last 2 preseason games, do you think the OL has made enough strides to keep Luck healthy all season? I am sure you will have a litany of these questions, but I was thinking this before Mewhort hurt his knee. But, I also always TRY to find a silver lining in everything. In the long run do you think this will help with the overall depth/ability at the OL position group? Again, thank you for the mailbag.

Bowen: I think we are stretching a bit with this one. The Colts did get good news on the injury front to Jack Mewhort. A two-to-four week timetable is very, very manageable compared to what some reports were predicting. I understand with where you are coming from in terms of depth. However, I'm not sure if the Colts are in a situation where losing Mewhort for potentially multiple games is a blessing in disguise. If Joe Haeg was ready to be the next man up here, I could see your thinking being applicable in this situation. However, Haeg is also on the mend. So now you are looking at Jonotthan Harrison at guard? It's not like Harrison is going to still be playing once Mewhort returns (offensive line guys do not rotate within in a game like other positions). If the Colts can go 2-0 without Mewhort (or however many games they have to play without him, if they even have to), then sure it does help the overall depth. But for now, this is a loss of the only lineman who started all 16 games for you last season.

Tony C. (Charleston, SC)

Read you twice a week and love the feedback. Question: Given the emphasis on the offensive line and the high/hopeful expectations of Joe Philbin as coach, why is the line playing so poorly. I know Mewhort got hurt. But before and after that our line doesn't look any better. False starts, holding, can't open a whole for the running game, Luck getting sacked multiple times and hit multiple times. Why has Philbin had a bigger impact on the fundamentals and gotten better line play? Sorry for the negativity, but every fan expected some progress on the fundamentals. Thanks.

Bowen: The line play was not up to par in Week Three. It was a 180 from Week Two, when the line protected Andrew Luck to the tune of zero hits/sacks and plenty of time for No. 12 to have a perfect night distributing the football. Then last Saturday, with Joe Reitz out of the lineup, the pressure came off the edge and through the interior. The unit protected well in the first quarter against Baltimore and then struggled in its half of action versus the Eagles. Three quarters of preseason action isn't the ultimate answer for what this line is going to look like in 2016. Things have to get better from what we saw against Philly. Look at the edge rushers waiting to start the season in Detroit and Denver (i.e. Ziggny Ansah and Von Miller). Those are some of the game's best. Joe Philbin's group will be tested right out of the gate. The line should not be completely written off after there quarters of August football, but things have to get better quick with what is waiting in a couple of weeks.

Rico W. (Tulsa, OK)

Kevin, Cromartie and Ferguson have the same number! Who get's #34? I assume the Vet!!

Thanks again, Colts Strong

Bowen: Antonio Cromartie had an Instagram the other day saying he will be back wearing No. 31 once the regular season rolls around. Trying to sort out jersey numbers is impossible. I'm sure if Jalil Brown (currently wearing No. 31) makes the team, he will take another number. Seniority typically rules in these instances. Do not worry about an offensive and defensive guy sharing numbers in the preseason.

Troy W. (Cedar Grove, IN)

Do you see the colts picking up players off of other teams rosters before the start of the season or is the 53 already here? Why isn't there more player for player trades in the nfl like in other leagues?

Bowen: I do see the Colts being very active when roster cut time rolls around on Saturday. The Colts haven't shied away from the waiver wire before. I don't see them holding back now. They will explore all avenues this coming weekend in trying to bolster their 53-man roster. I think one reason you do not see many trades is how the salary cap is structured. There's not a ton of wiggle room within the cap and it's difficult to justify trading a player when you factor in the salary implications that typically fall for the team sending a guy somewhere else. Also, you don't see a lot of "project" type players in this league. It's hard to stash younger players on a roster, compared to the NBA/MLB. If you dress on game day in the NFL, you're playing. And the guys that do not dress are usually hurt.

Terry G. (Greenwood, IN)

Hello Kevin hope you are well. Quick question for you. I saw Curt Maggitt have a nice game in ...I want to say week 1 of the preseason??? But I haven't heard anything since. What are your thoughts on his performance thus far and have you heard coach mention him. As always thanks for the insight and GO COLTS!!! #BTM#BLEED BLUE!

Bowen: Thursday night is going to be a key evaluation evening for the young edge guys. Trevor Bates, Curt Maggitt, Earl Okine and Ron Thompson have yet to string together consistent pressure this preseason. They should get 60 minutes of chances on Thursday to try and fight their way onto the roster. You would think the Colts could keep at least one of these guys, and possibly two. We saw Maggitt excel in stopping the run in Week One, but he hasn't shown much pass rushing pressure yet. I can't reiterate enough how important Thursday night is for this bunch. Chuck Pagano did have some nice things to say about Maggitt earlier this week: "Curt Maggitt is an interesting prospect. When you walk out on the football field and you look at 92 you say, 'That's how they're supposed to look.' If you have a piece of clay and you can go Michelangelo on him and carve one out, that's how they're supposed to look. He was very, very productive a couple of years ago in a highly competitive conference. He's doing a nice job so it will be interesting and exciting to see him play."

Pedro K. (Belo Horizonte, Brazil)

Hey Kevin, how are you doing? I haven't sent a question since the draft, so here it goes: I have seen lots of questions and articles about Chester Rodgers and Tevaun Smith fighting for the last WR spot, but does it have to be that way? The way I see it we could very well keep both those guys and carry 6 receivers on our 53 man roster, especially considering both Rodgers and Smith have shown they can contribute on special teams as well (covering and returning). What are your thoughts on this? Thank you, and GO COLTS!

Bowen: Pedro, good to hear from you. We actually had this very debate on Saturday's pre-game show with Jim Sorgi, Matt Taylor and myself. Sorgi wants to keep six wide receivers. Sure, that would be an ideal scenario, but it's not just feasible, in my opinion. The injuries are currently too immense right now to have the luxury of keeping six wideouts. I think it could very come down to either Rogers or Smith on the active roster, and then one of those guys being a practice squad option. I just can't see six wide receivers on the 53-man roster, due to the injury situation for the Colts.

Luke R. (Rochester, NY)

Hey Kevin,

After week 3 of the preseason, I have some questions.

  1. We saw that the offensive line was very weak in pass and run blocking, with Anthony Castonzo especially struggling, possibly more than 2015. Not only this, but with Mewhort gone for possibly most (or all) of the season, changes NEED to be made. One way I think they can improve, is by moving Castonzo, and/or giving playing time to the healthy rookies. Your thoughts?
  1. Clearly, with no pass rush or starting-caliber corners, Sam Bradford had a field day. Any ideas on how the Colts can help shorten opponents drives?
  1. Just a thought, but do you think the Colts should take a "non-playoffs" approach to the season? (Taking risks by starting and developing young talent for the future). It might seem crazy, but sticking with players in their 30s isn't going to help a ton to see what players to keep, and who to cut, even with the preseason. (Take Denzelle Good as an example)

Bowen: 1. Anthony Castonzo is not going anywhere. He's this team's left tackle and that isn't changing anytime soon. Out of their reserves, the Colts will likely go into 2016 without any backups who have started an NFL game at tackle. There's a reason Frank Gore's numbers went down and the sack numbers against the Colts went up last season when Castonzo was out of the lineup due to injury. Did Castonzo struggle on Saturday night? Yes. But he's the only guy on this roster with really any consistent play at left tackle at the NFL level. He's your left tackle. 2. Get Robert Mathis back in a hurry? In all seriousness, the defense just has to get healthy. The defense was missing seven expected starters last Saturday. It's impossible to judge what this defense is going to look like in 2016 until they start getting a bulk of those guys back. 3. A "non-playoffs" approach is probably the last thing you should expect from Jim Irsay and the Colts. Any form of tanking isn't happening. The Colts have made the playoffs 14 times in the last 17 years for a reason. They didn't sign Andrew Luck to a new $140 million deal to sit out the month of January.

Matthew H. (Iowa)

I heard Jack Mewhort is done for the season with an acl. Who do you see stepping up at his left guard spot?

With the signing of Stevan Ridley, could that hint at the colts waiving Josh Fergusen? Josh Fergusen hasn't lived up to his hype yet, but it's hard to tell after only 3 games

With all the injuries on the defensive side of the ball, which players are sure bets to start on week 1?

Bowen: 1. It's no ACL For Jack Mewhort. Head here for who might fill in with Mewhort out for two-to-four weeks. 2. The signing of Ridley will make things difficult for Josh Ferguson. We have seen small moments from Ferguson, but not what many thought though. It's just hard to see the Colts keeping many more than three running backs. They could keep four (if the injuries allow for that). If they keep four, it means Robert Turbin, Jordan Todman, Stevan Ridley and Josh Ferguson for three spots. Thursday night is vital for Ferguson in getting one last chance. 3. NT-David Parry, OLB-Robert Mathis, OLB-Erik Walden, ILB-D'Qwell Jackson and S-Mike Adams are your sure fire starters. Guys like S-T.J. Green, ILB-Nate Irving and CB-Antonio Cromartie are expected to be out there, too.

Sean M. (Ireland)

Is there a chance the colts might trade for a CB because of all the injuries?

Bowen: I'm going to lean towards no, for two main reasons. One, these injuries aren't long-term for Vontae Davis, Patrick Robinson, Darius Butler, etc. Antonio Cromartie provides a nice stopgap, and the Colts obviously hope he's more than that. Secondly, the Colts do not have a bunch of resources to delve out trade wise. Picks are so valuable going forward. Should the Colts afford to give up a somewhat high pick for a corner that likely will only play major reps for a few weeks?

Anthony O. (Springfield, MO)

Hey Kevin I think I speak for all Colts fans when I say that the news on Mewhort is a God send only being a 4 week maximum on that knee injury. Anyway, my question comes on the addition of Ridley. What do you think this could mean because it doesn't make a lot of sense to me because Ferguson showed his skills this week when given the space, which was great to see, and Turbin did good again along with Todman. Ridley hasn't quite been the same since that ACL injury in 14 and I'm just wondering if you think it's going to put Ferguson or Williams and them at risk now because teams don't usually go after veterans to just dump them a week later? Thanks for all your hard work Kevin and Let's Go Colts can't wait for the regular season!

Bowen: How I see it, Frank Gore and Robert Turbin are locks to make this football team. That's two running backs. Some people think the Colts will only keep one more running back. I think they can take two more ball carriers. Jordan Todman has shown an ability to contribute on special teams, so he's got to be a favorite. If Ridley can prove in the preseason finale that he still has it, then I can't really see the Colts cutting him in less than a week. I would say Ferguson is the odd man out. I'm sure the Colts would love to get Ferguson on the practice squad. Now, Ferguson (and the other backup running backs) is going to get significant run on Thursday night to make a case for the 53-man roster.

Michael W. (Germany)

Hey Kevin, great job, appreciate your work.

My questions from Germany: Why are the Colts getting one RB after another? I really dont think that the RB position is the problem in our running game. For me it seems that the playcalling is: "Run right in the middle of the D-Line and hope for the best. God bless." Our RBs will make mostly two yards out of it. I see other teams running outer routes, but not us. The only time we tried to run outside against the eagles, Turbin ran a TD (if there wasnt a flag on the field).

My last question: Do you think there is a possibility that Castanzo will get benched, because he was so bad against the Eagles? If so who will play for him(maybe Haeg?)?

Keep it up and go Colts

Michael

Bowen: We've really covered both of these questions throughout the mailbag this week. In short, the team isn't going to empty the running game playbook in the preseason, so expect a little more variety once the regular season rolls around. As far as Castonzo, he is definitely this team's left tackle. There's no question about it. He will not be getting benched for two quarters of preseason football. This team has no one on the roster, outside of Joe Reitz filling in, who has played left tackle with anywhere near the experience of Castonzo.

Terry W. (Ocklawaha, FL)

Looked like there were some pretty big holes on the outside on defense this week in the first half. Pagano seems to like big LB's. Might be we need more speed than size outside. Jackson's looking good but the rest of the team doesn't seem there quite yet. Do you think they might be able to pick up a LB and a CB after the cuts? Thanks for your insight to the team by the way.

Bowen: I could see a cornerback or possibly an edge linebacker. The Colts have not shied away from utilizing the waiver wire before and I expect them to follow suit in that area again this year. It will be very curious to see just how many guys the Colts are able to nab off the waiver wire, if they feel they can upgrade the backend of that 53-man roster.

Jonathan T. (Indianapolis)

I have a weird question....our defensive coordinator wants our players to play at what they do best....having said that, it seems like that hasn't been tr he case during this preseason. So, going forward, and I know the injury bug has been rampant, how do we get the defense to say elite status if you will with what we have now? Also, who has a chance to make the roster on defense in your opinion #bloodbeenblue

Bowen: A week and a half before the season opener and it's impossible to predict what Ted Monachino is going to have as a starting unit in Week One. He will have Robert Mathis, after the team's top pass rusher was held out all preseason. Mathis has to be a dominant edge presence for this team, via getting after the quarterback and commanding double teams. Honestly, the Colts just have to get healthy. Let Mathis get after the quarterback. Let Kendall Langford and Henry Anderson make plays in the defensive front. Let Vontae Davis give you a corner with shut down ability. Monachino has to have his elite guys in the lineup, given the inexperience behind those lead guys.

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