INDIANAPOLIS — Each week, 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.
Let's jump right into this week's questions:
Kyle L. (Indianapolis): "What do you see the Colts doing with Jacob Eason and Chad Kelly? Last season, they kept Kelly on the active roster and rolled with three quarterbacks even though it appeared that at no time did they prepare Kelly to play in a game. Assuming that Kelly and Eason are battling for the QB3 position this year, do the Colts cut or trade the loser? Do the Colts protect the winner, or do they risk them on the practice squad?"
Walker: That's a good question, Kyle, and I think if I'm being honest, you and I know about the same amount of information on this topic at this point in time. Last year, if you'll remember, after a strong preseason performance, the Colts did expose Chad Kelly to waivers to begin the season, which he cleared, and then signed him to the practice squad up until Week 10, when he was elevated to the active roster for the remainder of the regular season, really, as an emergency third option at quarterback with Jacoby Brissett dealing with his knee injury.
Reich traditionally likes to keep two quarterbacks on the active roster if he can help it, however, so that pattern would suggest at this time, Philip Rivers and Jacoby Brissett would be the only two QBs on the active roster to open the 2020 season, and whichever quarterback between Kelly and Jacob Eason wins out for that No. 3 job will likely be signed to the practice squad. Of course, there's always risk in that approach, because practice squad players can get signed to any other teams' active roster at any time, though the new CBA has made it so teams can move players up and down from the active roster and the practice squad two times a season without first subjecting them to waivers.
But until we actually see Eason on the field with the team, it's nearly impossible to determine where he stands in the quarterback competition at this moment.
Ben B. (Geneva, Ill.): "Would undrafted TE Farrod Green be competing for a roster spot at TE or how would that work? and where would Trey Burton and Jack Doyle fall to?"
Walker: Like all undrafted rookies, Farrod Green is going to get a fair shot to show what he can do to in camp and in the preseason to make the Colts' roster. But I believe it's going to be particularly tough for someone to break through at tight end, because not only do the Colts have Jack Doyle and Trey Burton, but they also have Mo Alie-Cox, who remains a big part of the offense as a blocker and emerging pass-catching threat. You also have to consider this: the team this offseason signed a true fullback in Roosevelt Nix, and if he's going to make the Week 1 roster, then that's one less spot the team can keep at another position; to me, that means tight end, which shares in some fullback responsibilities, would be an easy spot to say, "OK, with Nix in the mix, we'll go roll with three." But I can imagine Green is going to try his best to become this year's Hale Hentges: an undrafted rookie who performed so well in training camp and the preseason that he forced his way onto the Week 1 roster.
Al T. (Branson, Mo.): "I'm curious as to the offensive line speed. Watching game films from last year it appears that all the guys have quick reactions. Having switched from the Chargers to the Colts due to Philip, the line is impressive, but do the guys like driving straight ahead or pulling the most? Where do they feel that their strength is. GO COLTS..."
Walker: First off, welcome to Colts Nation, Al! We hope you enjoy your stay. And while it's my opinion that this Colts offensive line is solid at just about everything it's asked to do, I don't think there's any doubt this line is really special at pulling in the run game. It's hard not to start with All-Pro left guard Quenton Nelson, who was considered by many to be one of the best pulling offensive line prospects to have ever entered the draft back in 2018, and he has lived up to those expectations, for sure. I think we've all seen plenty of highlights of Colts ballcarriers being freed up with big No. 56 clearing the way in the open field. But the rest of the line has been very effective pullers, too, even the tackles. Anthony Castonzo is a 10th-year veteran who can get out and run off the left side, for sure, but I find myself constantly watching right tackle Braden Smith, a guard in college, as he works in the run game. There's a reason he was one of the NFL's top run-blocking offensive linemen in 2019, according to Pro Football Focus. So, yeah, the Colts like to hit you in the mouth straight ahead, but they have some real horses up front who like to get out and run just as much.
Tony H. (Carson, Calif.): "How are you Mr. Walker! What exactly were the reasons the COLTS PIERE DESIR left? I thought he was pretty much above average. I know he was hurt a lot. But, I thought he was up and coming. I hope this move doesn't come back and bite them. I really liked him as a player. What is your thought on this Mr. WALKER?"
Walker: What's up, Tony? I've been very fortunate to have stayed healthy in recent months, and I hope it's been the same for you and yours. As it pertains to Pierre Desir, general manager Chris Ballard hasn't really given much of an explanation beyond "at the end of the day we made a decision that we thought was the best thing for the team here this year and going forward." So it's tough for me to speculate beyond that why exactly the Colts decided to let him go. You're correct in that Desir did battle through a nagging hamstring injury throughout most of the season. Perhaps the team also saw an opportunity to sign a former All-Pro and three-time Pro Bowler, Xavier Rhodes, as an opportunity to turn over a new leaf at the cornerback position. Whatever the case may be, I know I certainly wish Desir nothing but the best moving forward; he is the epitome of a "good guy" you can't help but root for in the NFL.
Tim T. (Carmel, Ind.): "Who is the fastest Colt?"
Walker: Tim, we're likely going to start some heated debates with this one. I think the most fair way to do this is to go by their official, documented 40-yard dash times that they ran in the pre-draft process leading into their first NFL season. Sorted by fastest, here are the sub-4.4-second 40-yard dash times of players on the Colts' 90-man roster (a few players' 40-yard dash times aren't readily available; what's displayed is a mixture of Combine and pro day results):
1.) CB Isaiah Rodgers: 4.28
2.) WR Parris Campbell: 4.31
3.) WR T.Y. Hilton: 4.34
4.) RB Darius Jackson: 4.35
5.) RB Nyheim Hines: 4.38
6.) WR Malik Henry: 4.39
WR Marcus Johnson: 4.39
RB Jonathan Taylor: 4.39
Joe O. (London, England): "What are the chances that Pinter replaces Glowinski as the starting right guard, seeing as he is arguably the weakest member of the offensive line?"
Walker: Danny Pinter will absolutely be given the opportunity to compete for that right guard job, but as of now, it's firmly in the hands of Mark Glowinski. And perhaps Glowinski last season wasn't as consistent as the other four Colts offensive linemen, but that's a pretty tall task considering the fact that Anthony Castonzo, Quenton Nelson, Ryan Kelly and Braden Smith all practically put in career years in the same season. And let's add some context here: among qualifying right guards, Glowinski's 60.5 offensive grade from Pro Football Focus ranked 17th in the NFL, and his 64.9 run blocking grade ranked 10th. While perhaps he'll want to be a little more consistent in pass protection from week to week in 2020 (his 56.9 pass blocking grade ranked 25th in the league; he had a 64.7 grade in 2018), Glowinski is a fine option for the Colts at right guard overall.
Terry W. (Oklawaha, Fla.): "Don't know if Margus Hunt or Jabal Sheard have signed with anyone else or not but I'm thinking the Colts could use one or both back to have as backup in case one of the high dollar Defensive linemen get hurt. What do you think? Is that a possibilty."
Walker: Released by the Colts on March 16, Margus Hunt has since signed with the New Orleans Saints. Jabaal Sheard, however, does remain available on the free agent market. I certainly wouldn't rule out the possibility of the Colts being interested in bringing Sheard back on board, just considering how much general manager Chris Ballard and his coaches have raved about what he brings both on the field and as a leader. But I think the team has also reached a point where it wants to see exactly what it has in the young guns; guys like Kemoko Turay and Ben Banogu. I also believe Al-Quadin Muhammad has done a pretty solid job with his opportunities the past couple seasons, so perhaps we'll see what he can do with a larger role moving forward. Another factor at the position: DeForest Buckner's acquisition at defensive tackle means versatile guys like Denico Autry and Tyquan Lewis could start getting more snaps off the edge. So, short answer, I would not be surprised to see Sheard return if he were still available and there was a need, but I'm also intrigued by what the Colts currently have at defensive end heading into training camp.
Hezekiah C. (Norfolk, Va.): "It's been a while my brother,good to be back especially during these pandemic times .I believe we have the second best back-up quarterback in the NFL this year.Jacoby knows the offense,the coaches,the players very well.C.Ballard likes him a ton.Too many injuries at key 🔑 positions on offense especially hurt,and our special teams play was really bad in some key moments-the kicking 🦵 game cost us dearly.Baring all those reacurring factors,I believe we will be much improved over last year's performance.Your thoughts 💭 Go COLTS "
Walker: What's up Hezekiah? Thanks for your question. Simply put, I think the Colts did a solid job simply checking off their most pressing needs heading into the offseason, and now it's just time to go out and play ball. I wrote about those needs recently: the team needed left tackle Anthony Castonzo to return for 2020, which he did; the team needed to find a dominating presence in its defensive interior, which it did in DeForest Buckner; the team needed to figure out what it wanted to do at quarterback, and it did with the veteran Philip Rivers (while still keeping Jacoby Brissett as the backup); and the team needed to get more explosive on offense, which it did in free agency with Rivers and tight end Trey Burton, as well as in the draft with guys like Michael Pittman Jr. at wide receiver and Jonathan Taylor at running back. I think if you put all those factors together, you add in a more consistent kicking game and better play from the secondary, and the Colts could very well be contending for a title come postseason time.
Lundy V. (Shelbyville, Ind.): "Is there a reason, defensive player of the year, Bob Sanders is not in the Ring of Honor? We would have no Indy super bowl with out him."
Walker: Growing up in East Central Indiana, I was always that "I don't need a jersey to prove my fandom" type of guy. And then Bob Sanders came to the Colts. His No. 21 jersey is the only one I've ever had since. The reason I'm saying that is you just happen to be asking a question to one of the biggest Bob Sanders fans around. So with that being said, do I personally believe Sanders belongs in the Ring of Honor? Sure I do; while I get he didn't have the longevity due to unfortunate injuries, he was an NFL Defensive Player of the Year, he was and is a fan favorite and, like you alluded to, he was a hero for the team during its Super Bowl championship run in the 2006 season. However, having such a successful era, like the Colts did for the first decade of this century, means that some recognition is going to take a little longer than normal. The Colts in recent seasons have used one home game per year to give proper recognition to those being inducted into the Ring of Honor, so one by one they've been crossing the big names off that list, with pass rusher Robert Mathis being the next in line. So while I can't say whether or not Sanders is coming up anytime in the near future, I can certainly understand why fans believe his name belongs in the Lucas Oil Stadium rafters.
Brian B. (Columbus, Ind.): "Andrew, I have seen numerous color combinations on Colts.com through the years, some of the schemes of the uniforms are AWESOME! Loved the Blue crush, but so many others sadly are nothing more than screenshots on my phone! What gives? Love the mailbag!"
Walker: Gotta love hearing from my fellow uniform junkies. And I'm assuming that by "nothing more than screenshots on my phone," you mean designs made by fans and others who have tried their hand at putting together alternate Colts uniforms? And, by the way, I've seen a lot of those myself — some way better than others — and would love to see what they would actually look like in game action. But then again, as I'm sure you know, Brian, the Colts are very serious about their classic, traditional look. At home, the team wears the blue jerseys and white pants; on the road, it's white-on-white. And the white helmet with the blue horseshoe? One of the best looks in all of sports. So while the team has instituted some alternate looks over the years, most recently using a blue-on-blue look once a season, and others could be in the works down the road, the team isn't ditching its traditional unis anytime soon.