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Indianapolis Colts

Offensive Burning Questions heading into the Final Quarter

Intro: With the Colts regular season now reaching the final quarter of the season, here is a look at some burning questions at the offensive position groups. Check back to tomorrow for some questions on the defense/special teams.





INDIANAPOLIS –The Colts head into the final quarter of the season with an 8-4 record after Sunday's 22-14 win over the Titans.

What the Colts offense looks like in December is missing some significant parts from the unit fans saw back in Anderson.

Here's a look at some burning questions at each offensive positional group after 13 weeks…

How has Andrew Luck dealt with the offensive losses?

Third-down is the greatest area in where we've seen the Colts offense struggle since losing Reggie Wayne.

Luck doesn't have his security blanket any more and that has resulted in extra attention to T.Y. Hilton, and therefore a 5-of-34 performance on third-downs in first halves since Wayne's injury.

Yet, Luck has still helped the Colts go 3-2 in that stretch and his second-half performance in Houston and Tennessee were beyond impressive.

Keeping Luck upright continues to be priority No. 1 for the Colts and the quarterback continues to make plays with his feet at some of the game's most critical moments.How has the Colts running back duo progressed in 2013?

From a production standpoint, Donald Brown is on his way to a career-year in 2013 and it could not come at a more important time considering the rash of injuries in the Colts backfield.

Brown is averaging 6.0 yards a touch in 2013 and that has moved him into the starting role as of last week.

For the Colts to make a run in January though, the emergence of Trent Richardson will be vital.

It's a two-back league in the NFL and just like Brown did so many times over the past years, there will be opportunities for a second back, and for now that's Richardson.

Can the fourth quarter drives against the Titans, when the Colts had to run out the clock, build momentum for the rushing offense down the stretch?Can someone opposite T.Y. Hilton emerge in the final few weeks?

The attention T.Y. Hilton has garnered since the bye week is what you see most No. 1 receivers get weekly.

In the last three weeks, Hilton has caught five passes each game but 46 yards is his top performance.

That means other guys will have to step up.

LaVon Brazill has recorded six catches for 77 yards the last two weeks in what's been his most extensive playing time of 2013.

Sunday was the NFL debut for Da'Rick Rogers and his head coach was very complimentary of what he saw from the rookie receiver.

Pagano was non-committal on Monday when discussing if Darrius Heyward-Bey would see his reps decrease moving forward.Will Coby Fleener continue his strong second-half of the season?The jump from year one to year two in Fleener has been crucial to the Colts offense staying afloat.

Without Dwayne Allen and Wayne, Fleener has become a reliable target for Luck and the tight end has averaged 61.8 receiving yards since the bye week.

Fleener has been used in a variety of roles in 2013 and his versatility has been a welcoming sign to a Colts offense searching for playmakers.

Let's throw Stanley Havili into this category as the fullback has caught 15 balls for 109 yards in 2013.

In base packages, the pass catching abilities of Fleener and Havili allowed the Colts to record some big plays in last week's win over the Titans.

How's the Colts offensive line going to look down the stretch?

The Colts offensive line is in a state of flux with Jeff Linkenbach week-to-week after he suffered a tear in his quad during the win over the Titans.

Linkenbach was starting at right guard in place of Mike McGlynn so depending on health, the Colts offensive line could look different in Cincinnati.

Pagano did not hesitate on Monday when talking about the offensive line needing to protect better for No. 12.

"It's our biggest concern right now, first and foremost," Pagano said on Monday.

While the line has struggled at times in 2013, the unit has played particularly well in key second-half drives.

Just like other receivers emerging, the line must become more consistent for the Colts to make a playoff run.

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