Colts.com readers can submit their questions to have a chance of them being answered in our Mailbag series.
Missed out on the party this week? Not a problem — you can submit your question(s) for next time by clicking here, or by taking part in the Colts.com Forums and the Colts' Reddit. You can also send your questions to @JJStankevitz on Twitter.
Let's get after this week's questions:
Ryan DiMarino, Ashtabula, Ohio: How do the Colts get back on track this week against the Texans? Especially with so many injuries and a defense giving up too many points in second half? Also, after five weeks of play do you think Colts have the hardest schedule this year?
JJ Stankevitz: Good questions here.
Getting back on track for the Colts starts with carrying over what they did on offense against the Ravens to Sunday against the Texans. And that's play an extremely physical brand of football – breaking tackles, winning in the trenches, making contested catches.
The Texans enter Week 6 having allowed the second-most rushing yards after contact in the NFL (497), per PFF. They're tied with the Ravens for 29th in the NFL with an average of 3.1 yards after contact allowed per rushing play, so maybe there's another opportunity for Jonathan Taylor, Marlon Mack and Nyheim Hines to churn out some yards and physically assert the run game, as those players did on Monday night.
Houston also has allowed the seventh highest percentage of explosive passing plays this season (17.6 percent), so perhaps there will be some more opportunities for Carson Wentz to take the kind of shots he took against Baltimore – which also has allowed 17.6 percent of passing plays against its defense to be explosive gains.
On defense, don't sleep on Texans quarterback Davis Mills, who actually had a higher passer rating (141.7) than Lamar Jackson (140.5) in Week 5. The Colts will need to defend the pass with more success than they had against the Ravens; stay tuned Friday for updates on the game status for cornerbacks Xavier Rhodes (concussion) and Rock Ya-Sin (ankle). The Colts will get defensive end Kwity Paye back, while the Texans will be without stud left tackle Laremy Tunsil.
And as for your last question – it certainly feels like the Colts have played an extremely difficult schedule, hasn't it? Opening with Russell Wilson – who's now hurt – and then getting Super Bowl contenders in the Los Angeles Rams and Baltimore Ravens in the first five weeks is a pretty heavy lift.
According to Football Outsiders, though, the Colts have had about an average strength of schedule (17th) through the first five weeks of the season. For the final 13 weeks, though, the Colts' strength of schedule is 29th (the entire AFC South ranks between 27-30th, though).
But one final thought: I brought up this "easier" schedule after the first five weeks to head coach Frank Reich in a preseason Q&A and his answer was illuminating on how the Colts will approach these various stretches of a season.
"We take it week by week," Reich said. "And yeah, we establish our identity by our values, who we are, what we are philosophically as an offense, defense and special teams and who we are as a team together. And then as you said, as the season progresses, that takes little twists and turns but you really have to take that mindset of you can't get too focused — you can only focus on one thing, and that's the next game. It literally is the next game. And so if you start worrying about the game you just had or two games out, that's just a formula for disaster.
"Nobody knows how the season's going to unfold, how good each team is going to be, what injuries they're going to have or not have, what ups and downs and breaks go this way or that way. Every team is good in my mind. I look at our schedule right there and say we can beat every one of those teams and every one of those teams is capable of beating us. We're going to do what we do. We're going to practice hard, we're going to prepare hard and we're going to play them one at a time and then see what happens."
Kevin Bastian, Connersville, Ind.: Ashton Dulin has terrific speed and has excelled as a special teams gunner. He seldom gets on the field with the offense. He played safety and cornerback in college and high school. With the Colts' lack of depth at safety and cornerback, has the team ever considered working on making Dulin a viable backup at either/both of those positions? I don't expect anyone to know the answer off the top of your head; wondering if it's a question you could ask the coaching staff. Thanks.
JJ Stankevitz: So I'm not sure Ashton Dulin played defensive back in college — there's nothing in his Malone biography suggesting he did — but let me answer this generally, since I've seen plenty of questions over the last few months asking about various players changing positions.
Changing positions in the NFL is really, really hard.
In my last job, I wrote a few stories on John Franklin III — a quarterback-turned-wide receiver and focal point of the first season of "Last Chance U" on Netflix that was trying to make his way as a cornerback in the NFL. In one of my chats for the story, veteran cornerback Prince Amukamara put it to me this way: "It's definitely tough running forward for most of your life and now you're running backwards."
Occasionally, players can pull it off. But if they do, it would begin in the offseason – training differently before OTAs, then working on a position change all spring and summer. It wouldn't happen in the middle of a season.
Anyways, Dulin is growing more and more important to the Colts' offense as a wide receiver after establishing himself as a special teams ace over the last few years. He's making a few catches each game and he helped spring Jonathan Taylor's 76-yard touchdown with some physical blocking on the perimeter against the Baltimore Ravens.
Ed Van Zweden, Ogden, Utah: Thanks for the mailbag and giving readers answers to the questions from fans. I have not seen any information about the Colts second round pick Dayo (Odeyingbo) other than he was placed on IR with injury similar to the one (Eric) Fisher experienced. I believe their injuries happened at about the same time. Is there any update on Dayo and will we see him with the team any time this year? Thanks.
JJ Stankevitz: Good timing, Ed, since Frank Reich was asked about Odeyingbo this week.
"I think we do expect him to play," Reich said. "We want to be smart and we want to understand the situation, but I think we're hopeful we see him play before the year is over."
Odeyingbo said back in May his goal was to play in 2021 after he suffered an Achilles injury training for the Senior Bowl in January. He's still on the non-football injury list (meaning his injury came outside of an NFL setting) and will not even be eligible to play for the Colts until after Week 8.
"This kid is a unique, unique talent," general manager Chris Ballard said after drafting Odeyingbo in April. "We would have considered him in the first round if he hadn't got injured and I think a lot of teams would have."
Roger Mitchell, El Paso, Texas: Tough loss Monday, but I think that is the best the team has played this season. The O-line had some life to it while missing to big time starters. So my question is when Big Q comes back is there talk of (Chris) Reed competing for the starting RG spot?
JJ Stankevitz: I wouldn't say there's talk of Chris Reed taking Mark Glowinski's spot at right guard. Glowinski has had his two best games of the season – by PFF's grades – over the last two weeks and has been a staple on the interior of this line for years.
But you're absolutely right to highlight Reed's play. Replacing a guy in Quenton Nelson who literally has never not been a first-team AP All-Pro in the NFL is an incredibly big ask. But Reed has been up to the challenge and has been a rock-solid member of the Colts' starting offensive line over the last two weeks.
"Our mentality is next man up and I think I filled that role well so far," Reed said. "Obviously, we're still kind of going upwards and trying to get better. As long as I'm doing my job, that's what I'm here for."