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Stampede Blue Tweetbag: Hugh Thornton, Trent Richardson, Reggie Wayne, and More

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Stampede Blue's Josh Wilson answers questions about the Colts submitted via twitter.

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Answering your twitter questions about the Colts:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" lang="en"><p><a href="https://twitter.com/Coltsfanwilson">@Coltsfanwilson</a> what&#39;s the split you expect in playing time between Brown and Landry?</p>&mdash; Olly (@OllyNoonan) <a href="https://twitter.com/OllyNoonan/status/537056210298499072">November 25, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

That's a tough question that I'm not sure I really know the answer to.  Ultimately, I'd expect Sergio Brown to continue starting until I hear otherwise.  But take a look at the snap counts from Sunday and you can see that LaRon Landry's defensive snaps increased this week as opposed to last week, and it's certainly possible that the Colts are slowly building Landry back up toward being the starter.  Ultimately, I do expect Sergio Brown to continue to start but for LaRon Landry to continue to see defensive snaps - basically, I expect them to split playing time for the time being.  And I think sticking with Brown is the right thing to do.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" lang="en"><p><a href="https://twitter.com/Coltsfanwilson">@Coltsfanwilson</a> do you think Wayne is still hurt or is he finally showing his age?</p>&mdash; Steven Smith (@Finn_Dingo) <a href="https://twitter.com/Finn_Dingo/status/537056340641075200">November 25, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

I shared my thoughts in-depth about Reggie Wayne yesterday so I'll keep it rather brief here, but basically here's the deal: he's a 36-year old wide receiver coming off of a torn ACL who also suffered an elbow injury earlier this season.  It really shouldn't be all that surprising to see Reggie's decline in play, but I think a lot of us expected (hoped) that the future Hall of Famer would be different - that he wouldn't be affected by the age or the injury (ACL).  But even the great Reggie Wayne has been slowed down.  Basically, right now he's still a guy to have around and he will still be involved in the offense, as he should be.  When teams play in zone defenses, he can still be effective - as he can find the holes in the zone.  It's when teams go with man coverage that Reggie struggles because, as we mentioned, he has lost a step and struggles to create separation.  Again, this isn't that surprising, considering his age and the injury, but it's still hard to watch.  Ultimately, his role isn't going away this season, but he certainly isn't playing at the level we're used to seeing Reggie Wayne play.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" lang="en"><p><a href="https://twitter.com/Coltsfanwilson">@Coltsfanwilson</a> who steps in for Thornton, and do you think it should be permanent?</p>&mdash; Steven Smith (@Finn_Dingo) <a href="https://twitter.com/Finn_Dingo/status/537056451613958144">November 25, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

This question is probably the most pressing one that emerged out of Sunday's game: what to do with Hugh Thornton?  On Sunday against the Jaguars, Thornton was about as bad as you could possibly be along the offensive line.  He was really, really bad.  He injured his knee and left the game early, and A.Q. Shipley filled in at right guard, playing better and helping the line look better as a whole.  On Monday, Chuck Pagano said that Thornton has an MCL sprain and is week to week, and with the Colts that normally means the player will miss some time.  So I think there's a pretty good chance he won't be playing this weekend.  So who should start in his place?  The answer is easy - A.Q. Shipley.  He stepped in on Sunday and played well, so there's no reason to go away from him.  But who will start on Sunday?  Perhaps Holmes, but we'll see.  Lance Louis wasn't active on Sunday - might the Colts give him a shot again?  After all, he filled in earlier this year.  What about Joe Reitz?  He's much better at guard and it's likely that Gosder Cherilus will be back this weekend.  What about Xavier Nixon?  The Colts actually have several options at guard to replace Thornton, and honestly any of them would do better than Thornton did two days ago.  Shipley, Reitz, Nixon - the Colts have options, and while I don't know who they'll end up starting I do think those guys could do ok.  Now we get to the really tricky part of your question, and that's whether it should be a permanent change even once Thornton is healthy.  It's tricky because it's hard to bench a guy in his second year and then come back later (probably next year) and say he could be a long-term player there.  The Colts won't be quick to make any move like that because of what it would convey, but honestly I don't think they have many other options at this point.  Hugh Thornton has been bad.  With him injured, someone else will be playing there anyway.  Why not stick with that?  It'd be hard to be worse than Thornton was on Sunday, and the Colts absolutely have to do something to try to protect Andrew Luck more.  They have to.  So yeah, there's a lot of uncertainty going forward, but I'm absolutely of the opinion that a change really must be considered at the right guard position, because Hugh Thornton hasn't been getting it done.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" lang="en"><p><a href="https://twitter.com/Coltsfanwilson">@Coltsfanwilson</a> Why is the coaching staff still starting Harrison at C?</p>&mdash; Steven Pearlstein (@SPearlstein2) <a href="https://twitter.com/SPearlstein2/status/537056938467418112">November 25, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

Well, here's the deal: I'll tell you why the Colts are starting Jonotthan Harrison, based on what I've been told and what I've come to infer.  It doesn't mean I agree with it, but since you asked why they're still starting him I'll give you my best shot at answering based on what I understand the Colts are doing (because Chuck Pagano hasn't given an answer).  The Colts like Harrison a lot, and I can see why.  In training camp and preseason he was impressive, and he's always been an intriguing option.  He's a guy that needed work coming out of college, however, and that's a reason why he was undrafted.  Due to circumstances (injury to Khaled Holmes), Harrison was forced into the starting lineup in preseason and it just confirmed to the Colts that they liked Harrison as a potential long-term center better than Holmes, which had been developing throughout camp and continued throughout the preseason.  The Colts were apprehensive about an undrafted rookie going to Denver and starting, however, and when they saw that A.Q. Shipley had been waived they claimed him.  He stepped in, started, and played well, but it seemed inevitable that at some point the team would turn to Harrison and give him a shot - whether it was this season or next, the Colts really wanted to see what they had in Harrison and continue to develop him.  So they made the switch in-season.  The Colts think he can be the center of the future.  They think he can continue to get work and develop and become that long-term answer they want.  And I've thought the same - but the issues are very obvious.  This isn't to say that Harrison can't develop into a good center for the Colts.  But right now, there's no way to justify starting him other than for the long-term hope.  If you want to read more about my thoughts on who should be starting at center, I looked at it last week in this article.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" lang="en"><p><a href="https://twitter.com/Coltsfanwilson">@Coltsfanwilson</a> Have you seen enough from Boom to give him the majority of the carries going forward? Or enough of Trent?</p>&mdash; Ʊ Chris Petrovic Ʊ (@RebornRonnie) <a href="https://twitter.com/RebornRonnie/status/537057189383655424">November 25, 2014</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

If it were up to me, I would handle the running back situation pretty much exactly like the Colts did on Sunday.  Trent Richardson got more snaps, yet he functioned more as a third down or power back.  Dan Herron got more touches, as he touched the football 17 times and gained 96 yards.  The Colts also ran for a season-high 175 yards, though helped out quite a bit by Andrew Luck too.  I really didn't have a problem at all with the way the running back position was divided up on Sunday.  I was impressed with Boom overall, but he absolutely cannot put the football on the ground like he did twice in just 12 carries.  That's unacceptable.  If that continues, it'll be more and more Richardson.  But if he can get that under control, I thought he actually looked better than I expected and I think he could be a valuable help.  He reminds me of Donald Brown from a year ago in many ways.  One thing I will add here is this: I see a lot (and I mean a lot) of Colts fans saying how Trent Richardson doesn't have a chance behind that offensive line.  I've seen comments saying that "(insert Hall of Fame running back here) couldn't gain yards behind this line."  And all I can think of is that everybody the Colts have put out there other than Richardson has done better than he has.  Donald Brown averaged 5.3 yards per carry for the Colts last year.  Ahmad Bradshaw averaged 4.5 yards per carry last year and 4.7 yards per carry this year.  On Sunday, Herron averaged 5.4 yards per carry.  Meanwhile, Trent Richardson has averaged just 3.1 yards per carry since coming to Indianapolis.  The offensive line has not helped things, certainly.  But to say they are the reason for Richardson's struggles is misinformed.  Everyone else the Colts trot out there at running back does better.  To me, that says a lot.  But I digress, and to return to your question - I like Boom.  I think he should continue to see a lot of time.  And I wouldn't mind the Colts taking a similar approach as they did on Sunday at the running position for this Sunday's game against the Redskins.