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Colts Wednesday Mailbag: Who Will Start At Safety In 2016?

Intro: This Wednesday, mailbag readers inquire about Frank Gore going for 1,000 yards this season, which defenders need to step up in 2016 and Pat McAfee’s contract situation.

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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:Brent Fye (Kokomo, IN)

Hey Kevin, let's start this off with my thoughts. 1. I think the run game will really come together this year, Frank would've had the type of numbers he is used to last year but unfortunately had many great runs called back by dumb penalties on the o-line. I think Philbin was a great addition to teach some discipline into the younger guys. 2. This defense needs a version of Bob Sanders, like when we made our Super Bowl run. I liked Geathers hitting ability and I'm excited for when the coaches deem Green ready cause his athletic abilities are off the charts.

So my question is, besides Geathers, who do you see taking that next step on defense and possibly becoming a probowl quality star this year. If we want a championship, depth is huge as is an unsung hero. Regardless i think our defense will be better if our offense stays balanced and doesn't give the ball away.

Bowen: This is a good question, Brent. I point to three players that the Colts will need to play at a very high level on defense. Let's start with cornerback Patrick Robinson. The Colts signed Robinson for a reason---to solidify the No. 2 cornerback position, opposite Vontae Davis. Robinson's presence as a corner, who can control his side of the field, is a major key to the Colts' success in 2016. An effective Robinson would do wonders for the pass rush. The next guy I would pick is whoever emerges as the starter next to D'Qwell Jackson. Whether it's Sio Moore or Nate Irving starting, one of those guys will be replacing Jerrell Freeman, who was the team's leading tackle from 2012-15. A versatile inside linebacker to start next to Jackson is important for many reasons including so the Colts don't feel the need to abandon their base personnel on obvious passing downs. Freeman was the biggest subtraction this offseason meaning Moore or Irving will have some pretty big shoes to fill. Lastly, I'm going to go with Henry Anderson. I know that Anderson isn't an "unsung hero." Anderson showed his talent in the first half 2015. But if this defense is going to play at a high, high level in 2016, a healthy Anderson is a must. I know this isn't necessarily what you're looking for, but I wanted to take one guy from each level of the defense, who will slide into more and more of a spotlight this year.

Anthony O. (Springfield, MO)

Hey Kevin love reading your articles and mailbag on the Colts app, it's getting me more and more excited for this upcoming season all the good things to hear about the team. I wanted to ask a question about the offense but not the O line. I just read the article on the receivers/tight end burning questions. Do you think it's possible to have three 1,000 yard receivers this year? I mean if Andrew goes back to 2014 type playing with this offense I think he could between TY, having the speed to get deep yards, Moncrief and his catch radius and YAC ability, and Allen taking up probably the middle of the field with good chunk yards through the season. I know Dorsett will get action too with everyone garnering probably a lot of attention so he could even be a nice option with his speed too. It was just a nice thought but you'd think if Andrew throws for 4 or 5 thousand yards that 3 of those could be split between maybe three big guys.

Bowen: I just don't know if there are enough touches for three separate wide receivers to reach the 1,000-yard mark in a single season. By my count, this has happened just twice since 1995 (2004 Colts and 2008 Cardinals). With Frank Gore being capable of a 1,000-yard season himself and the Colts striving for such balance, I can't see this happening. Dorsett shouldn't need many touches to rack up the yards this season, but I still think the odds are slim of three different players getting to 1,000 yards.

Benjamin H. (Los Angeles, CA)

Hi Kevin! All time reader, first time question.

I just read an article about the Baltimore Ravens' kicker signing a record breaking deal, and it made me wonder about what we fans can expect for Pat McAfee when his time for a new contract comes around. (I ask about Pat because I figure Adam Vinitarie will retire at the end of his current contract.) Thoughts?

Thanks! Go Colts!

Bowen: Pat McAfee signed his new contract back during the 2014 season. It was a five-year deal for McAfee. He will not become a free agent again until 2019, when he will be 32 years old. Per Spotrac, McAfee is the ninth highest paid punter in the NFL. I'm sure if his contact came up this past offseason or was in the final year next offseason, he would find himself inking a deal in the top five of all punters. It will be interesting to see what McAfee decides to do in 2019, and what the market value is for a potential third contract.

Dustin B. (Kings Mountain, NC)

Hey Kevin, thanks for last week's answers.

My question this week is about week 1 against Detroit. Luck is notorious for losing at least the season opener sometimes first 2 games we have for the last 2 seasons. We also did in his first season if I remember correct. My question is this, after last season 7 games due to injury some people lost some faith in Luck, do you think the game against Detroit is an absolute win for Luck to instill that he is back or if we lose would people still believe?

Bowen: I don't think it's as cut and dry as you mention. Yes, the Colts have lost the first two games each of the past two years (they were 1-1 in Luck's rookie season of 2012). Let's look at the big picture. The NFL is a 16-game season. No game in Week One is ever a must win. For any team. Luck has shown a resiliency, even within games, to bounce back. In 2014, the Colts lost their first two games then won 13 of their next 16, before losing in the AFC Championship. An 0-2 start isn't ideal, but I don't think the panic button would need to be pressed. I think people still have plenty of faith in Luck and his ability to play at a very high level.

Yash T. (Denver, CO)

Hey KB,

My man thank you. As a fan all the way out in Bronco territory, I really appreciate what you write/Horseshoe FAQ for us fans not in Indy. I got a 2 parter for you:

A) Do you believe Frank Gores will hit 1000 this season? Last time our RB had a 1000 yd season we went all the way to the Super bowl (Addai).

B) I have never been to Lucas Oil, I just purchased Tickets to season opener against Detroit, as well I already have tickets to week 2 here in Denver. My question is as a fan, is there any way I could get a chance to meet you or Stephen Holder? Or even any of the players? Shot in the dark, but worth asking... Thanks a bunch! - Die hard fan from across the nation. #FORTHESHOE

Bowen: Yash, happy to have you visiting Colts.com each week. A. If healthy, and the pitch count isn't too immense for Frank Gore, he's going to rush for 1,000 yards. Gore was just 33 yards short of that number last year and that's with his numbers taking a serious hit in the games Andrew Luck and Anthony Castonzo missed due to injury. Joseph Addai in 2007 was the last Colt to reach the 1,000-yard mark. If Gore can do it, he will be the first NFL running back, at least 33 years old, to rush for 1,000 yards since John Riggins in 1984. B. Stop in Touchdown Town before the game in Indy. Jim Sorgi, Matt Taylor and myself will have our pre-game radio show out in Touchdown Town (located right across the stadium, on the north side of South Street). We would love to meet you and chat during our breaks (we will be on-air from 1:25-3:25 that afternoon).

Jonathan T. (Indianapolis)

What's the latest on Antonio Morrison? Do you think he'll start at any point during the season if Sio Moore goes down or any of our linebacker corps in underproducing? Also would it be wise to use TJ Green on some trick plays on offense? Thanks #bloodbeenblue

Bowen: 1. Antonio Morrison is a name to watch in Anderson. Morrison, a fourth-round pick earlier this year, missed the entire offseason program due to a hamstring injury he suffered during rookie minicamp. It goes without saying that this staff is extremely high on Morrison. However, he has yet to log any practice reps (with the entire team). Until, then it's impossible to gauge where he might be in the two deep. Let's say Sio Moore starts. You still have former starters Nate Irving and Josh McNary at the inside linebacker position. Morrison is going to get a chance though to jump those guys. 2. As of right now, I say let T.J. Green concentrate on learning the safety position at the NFL level. Yes, he did play receiver early on at Clemson but he's a safety in the NFL, and has a bunch to understand at that position.

Matt B. (Evansville, IN)

In previous offseasons that Colts have signed veteran talent at thin positional groups. I'm comfortable with our depth at most positions with the exception of wide receiver. Any chance we pickup a veteran receiver as teams cut their rosters down to 53 players?

Bowen: If you are referring to that waiver-wire immediately after final cut downs, I think there's a chance that could happen. The Colts have been active in claiming post-cut players before (Jack Doyle and T.Y. McGill come to mind). I view wide receiver as one of a couple of positions the Colts could add some depth in come early September, when the cut occurs from 75 to 53 players.

Parker T. (Noblesville, IN)

Hi Kevin,with the lost of Dwight Lowery, who do you think will start alongside Mike Adams, Klayton Geathers or TJ Green?

Thank you for your time!

Bowen: Mike Adams and Clayton Geathers will be the starting safeties for the Colts in 2016. Geathers started two games last year (in place of Adams). Once Lowery left for San Diego in free agency, Geathers slid into the starting lineup. With T.J. Green there's still a learning curve. Green played safety in college for just two seasons, only one year as a starter. Now, Green could become a starter next season depending on what the 35-year-old Adams does going into free agency.

Walt G. (Pendleton, IN)

I have been a Colts fan since the mid 1950's when I learned that my uncle was one of their coaches. Over the years (especially in the Unitas era, I have seen the colts flourish on crossing patterns that typically picked up 10 yards. When pressure became an issue, draw plays and screens slowed the defense down. Why do we now see so few of these plays?

Our play calling seems overly predictable. On first down, we seem determined to run off tackle or up the middle (2 yards and a cloud of dust) against a defense that is stacked against these plays due to scouting reports that see the same thing that observant fans do. With the speed of our backs, end around runs seem to be the most effective when not overdone. Likewise, first down delays, end arounds, and middle passes seem, for the most part, absent from our playbook. When we do try them, they are usually very effective.

On third down and more than 3 yards, we usually throw short sideline passes that are subject to interceptions due to the predictability of our play calling.

Are these issues going to be addressed this season?

Thanks,

Walt

(Long time fan and club seat season ticket holder)

Bowen: I believe we could definitely see more crossing routes involved in Rob Chudzinski's offense this season. He knows the speed he has at his disposal in the likes of T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief and Jacoby Brissett. Check out this video Jim Sorgi and myself did in June of what the wide receiver position/passing game could look like in 2016.

Paul M. (Pittston, PA)

Hey Kevin, have you ever thought about doing a " Where are they now " series. Players like Mike Curtis, Ray May, etc.

Bowen: Paul, this is something we did a few years back. Here's a sample of one with Chris Hinton. It's something I'd love to start back up next offseason. This offseason has been a bit busy getting ready for two Hall of Fame inductees (look for those long-form pieces very soon) and a Super Bowl anniversary.

Rico W. (Tulsa, OK)

Keven, Just curious to know who will be the home team for the game in London, England?

Thanks, Colt's Strong 2016-17

Bowen: The Jaguars will be the home team at Wembley Stadium on Oct. 2. The Colts will then host the Jaguars to close out the 2016 regular season on New Year's Day.

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