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Colts Wednesday Mailbag: Will Robert Mathis Reach The 10-Sack Number This Season?

Intro: This Wednesday, mailbag readers inquire about the shakeup of the offensive line in 2016, how the defense will look under Ted Monachino and if the team will sign another wide receiver.

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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:Stan C. (Minneapolis)

Thanks for all the hard work, Kevin! I've got a question regarding older players that don't choose retirement.

I know we've had multiple questions about the receivers and the possibility of bringing in a free agent. I know the salary cap situation is pretty limited, but as I glance through the roster, I still feel like the group would benefit greatly from a veteran presence. If you assume a 6-deep group and slot in T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief, Jacoby Brissett, and Quan Bray as locks for the final cut, you have 2 spots left for fringe players like Josh Boyce, Brian Tyms, and Tevaun Smith.

I wondered if NFL teams sometimes use veterans like the NBA does in terms of signing older players to serve as mentors more than critical pieces. The Minnesota Timberwolves, for example, brought back an aged Kevin Garnett to serve as a fiery leader and mentor, even though he plays limited minutes. Is this really done in the NFL, or do those types of players simply retire? Because I feel like this young group would benefit from the presence of an experienced guiding hand (we miss you, Reggie).

Bowen: Stan, I see what you're getting at. The NFL is a business and you see that far more often than not when it comes to veteran players hanging around. I also think a coaching staff desires such veteran presences, but they aren't going to sign a guy if he can't make any significant impact come game days. On an NBA team, you have pretty much 8-9 guys playing game-changing minutes every night. That's just right around 60 percent of a team's roster. In the NFL, you have a much higher percentage of roster guys seeing important game action. You factor in a shrinking inactive list due to injuries and it's just hard to make the case for such a signing.

Kieffer G. (Miami)

Hey there kev thanks for last weeks response. Now about the olb position how is curt magitt (feel like he was a steal) injury healing up? Also how does Ron Thompson and Trevor Bates look out there?

One more question and its about Antonio Morrison. How's he coming along? I know he's dealing with an injury but do you think he'd be back by training camp?

Bowen: Curt Maggitt is expected to be ready for Training Camp. I'm definitely eager to see him. I'm also looking forward to seeing Thompson and Bates, too. The full pads will allow for better evaluations on those young edge guys. First-team reps could also be on the horizon for them in Anderson, given how veteran off days can occur as the grind of camp live transpires. Chuck Pagano hasn't given any specific update on Antonio Morrison. However, the rookie linebacker did attend and observe OTA/minicamp practices, something we saw from many of the short-term injury guys.

Kent A. (Greenwood, IN)

I'm a homer. I think the colts will win the Super Bowl each year. I think they can do it this year depending upon injuries. With that topic in mind how about a game of over /under on the number of games some of our oft injured players will play this year.

  1. Art Jones - 8
  1. Dwayne Allen - 12
  1. Phillip Dorsett - 10
  1. Henry Anderson - 11
  1. Number of different starting OL combos - 6

We'll see how you do at the end of the year.

Bowen: Predicting injuries are a route I won't be going down. Vick Ballard never missed a game in his football life before the injury bug bit him for three straight years. It's impossible to know when one rolled up player could ruin a season. Your last question is the bigger dilemma that this team has faced in recent years. I'd guess that number is lower than six given the continuity (when healthy) that is desired. However, health is the ultimate X-factor in how that plays out this year.

Andrew H. (Fargo, ND)

Hi Kevin,

Can't thank you enough for doing what you do for these mailbags. It means a lot to the fans.

My question is about the defensive scheme. I believe we will have a very talented and underrated defensive line next season when Anderson and Jones get healthy. I know we are thinking of doing a 3-4 attacking multiple defense. But if we do a 4-3 attacking defense it will get more of our talented defensive linemen on the field. The problem with the 4-3 is I don't know if Mathis will be able to fill what a 4-3 DE has to do. Plus he is our only true and proven pass rusher. So I thought about this and I came up with this. The Patriots run more of a hybrid of the two schemes. The will do a 4-3 then a 3-4 and disguise both really well. Could we possibly do this? The only question is our linebacker position. I don't know much about Sio Moore and Nate Irving. And I know Coach Pagano is more of a man coverage guy, but this could help the secondary as well by throwing in zones and presses. Anyways just a thought.

Go Colts!!

Bowen: Andrew, no problem at all. I look forward to it every Wednesday and Saturday. New coordinator Ted Monachino has really stressed the "multiplicity" of his unit. So, while the 3-4 label will still be used, expect variety from the shape of the front seven. As far as Moore and Irving, I look for them to be more in the mold of what you are losing in Jerrell Freeman. With Irving trimmed down, the Colts feel they have some athletic options to start next to D'Qwell Jackson. It's why they don't feel the need (right now) to take that inside linebacker off the field when going into their sub packages on passing downs.

Jack M. (Huntington, IN)

I think all people on Colts.com appreciate the reading you do here, so thank you. So my question is could you see Joe Haeg maybe starting at season start? Now I know that Ryan Grigson wants Joe Reitz at RT but can't Haeg play guard to? Also are the colts looking at any young receivers in free agency? And my last question is will Robert Mathis be able to get up to ten sacks this season?

Thanks

Bowen: 1. Earlier this week, I touched on rookie playing time that could arise in 2016. Joe Haeg made the most of the extra reps at right guard this offseason. With Hugh Thornton and Denzelle Good missing nearly the entire offseason program, Haeg and Jonotthan Harrison logged time with the first team. Obviously, the Colts see some guard potential in Haeg. You can throw his name into the big mix of guys fighting for that right guard spot in Anderson. Is it four guys for one spot? 2. I'd be surprised if the Colts went looking for another free agent at wide receiver. Funds are tight and the Colts like the five undrafted wide receivers they signed this past offseason. 3. If Robert Mathis is healthy for 16 games, I fully expect him in the double-digit sack range. He had 7.0 last season and didn't become a full-time starter until about the halfway point of the season.

Jeff P. (Bristol, CT)

I will call this "The Bubble Boys" last week you had some fun with my projected 53 Man Roster. Every year, I would say the Colts go into last cuts with 42-45 players that are locks to make the team. Could/would you like to talk about the players going after the other 8-11 spots? Ex. Harrison vs Blythe. McNary vs Herrera. Varga vs Furguson vs Todman. Ect....

Thanks.

Ps. I know training camp has not started yet. Us fans need something to talk about! ;)

Bowen: Haha, I completely understand the craze in wanting to talk about roster cuts. That's right around the corner as we hit the quieter period of the offseason. With the few examples you mentioned above a big factor will be special teams impact for those at linebacker and even running back. With the backup centers, I think position versatility (the ability to play guard) will play a major, major role there.

Dashawn J. (Savannah, GA)

A lot of emphasis on the offensive line has been about how they will block for Luck. My question is how will it make the run game stronger and does the new zone blocking scheme help at all?

Bowen: Dashawn, I think you bring up an overlooked aspect of the offensive line in 2016. What about Frank Gore? As I wrote earlier this offseason, Gore is pretty happy about half of the team's draft picks being spent on offensive linemen. Shoring up the interior of the line should certainly benefit Gore and the run game. As you would expect, Gore's numbers were at their best last season when Andrew Luck and/or Anthony Castonzo were healthy.

Sam B. (Winchester, IN)

Thanks Kevin for answering my questions and all of Colts nation as well.

I was reading an article that the Colts will miss the playoffs and that there are so many holes on defense with pass rush,secondary,etc. all well documented with your articles and national writers. Robert Mathis likes the underdog role as does Mike Adams and so one. I am a real firm believer that we are going to shock some people this year I was just curious on what you think personally? As always thank you and GO COLTS!!!

Bowen: Sam, if you have explored the mailbag before you know that I do think the Colts have done enough to get back into the postseason. They contended for a playoff spot last year without Andrew Luck for nine games. With Luck back healthy and the improvement of the offensive line, I see this offense taking a 180 from last season. In terms of the pass rush, Robert Mathis is now going to see his normal playing time, something that didn't happen until about halfway through last season. If the secondary's addition of Patrick Robinson allows for more consistent cornerback play, that's really going to assist Mathis and the pass rush. The AFC South has made some noise in the offseason. Of course, offseason noise is just that. We will see if that translates to a big uptick in wins come fall. I expect the Colts to be back in the playoffs this season.

Michael F. (Porter Ranch, CA)

Kevin.... as you do every year at this time, the weights on the roster are updated. I couldn't help but notice that Denzelle Good is now listed at..... 355 pounds!

Please, please, please, please tell Colts Nation that that is a typo, a mistake, and not something intentional? If it was intentional, would you like to take a guess at why? It would seem counter-intuitive to have more agile offensive lineman for a more zone oriented blocking scheme.

Inquiring minds want to know! Many thanks for all you and your staff do...

Bowen: Denzelle Good has always been a guy hovering near 350 pounds. He brings some uniqueness to the offensive line with the athletic ability to still move quite well at that size. Obviously, the Colts don't want him much heavier than that. Check out this article for more on Good's rare traits.

Chris N. (Orange County, CA)

Is Everett Golson still fighting for a roster spot with the Colts?

Bowen: Everett Golson is not on the Colts roster. Golson participated as a tryout guy at the team's rookie minicamp. He was not signed after the tryout. The Colts currently have four quarterbacks on their roster (Andrew Luck, Scott Tolzien, Stephen Morris and Josh Woodrum), a high amount compared to what they normally bring to Anderson.

Austin M. (Palm Coast, FL)

Other than a bunch of football questions how is your day going?

Bowen: Austin, I'm having a wonderful start to my Wednesday. As a golf fan, I'm looking forward to the start of the U.S. Open this week and also seeing if the U.S. soccer team can make a deep run in the Copa America Tournament. Hope you (and all the readers of the mailbag) are enjoying their "hump day."

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