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Stampede Blue Tweetbag: Is Andrew Luck an MVP Candidate?

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

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Answering your twitter questions about the Colts.  You can follow Josh @coltsfanwilson and Stampede Blue @StampedeBlue.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" lang="en"><p><a href="https://twitter.com/Coltsfanwilson">@Coltsfanwilson</a> Which positional group has impressed you the most?</p>&mdash; Steven Pearlstein (@SPearlstein2) <a href="https://twitter.com/SPearlstein2/statuses/498996770462900225">August 12, 2014</a></blockquote>

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Easy - wide receiver.  It looks the most impressive on paper and it has been the most impressive in camp.  T.Y. Hilton is an absolute stud, and he's shown that once again both in camp and in the first preseason game.  Reggie Wayne looks like Reggie Wayne, and you wouldn't be able to tell he is coming off of a torn ACL other than the compression sleeve he wears on his leg.  And of course we know how talented Hakeem Nicks is, and we're seeing improvement, especially in the timing with Andrew Luck.  Nicks is looking pretty good, too, and then Donte Moncrief has been incredibly impressive for a rookie.  He looks smooth and polished and, well, unlike a rookie.  He looks great.  Da'Rick Rogers' speed is impossible to ignore and so is his improvement in camp, and then Griff Whalen is Mr. reliable and looks good too.  Even some of the undrafted guys, like Ryan Lankford, Tony Washington, and Eric Thomas, have had impressive moments.  Beyond any doubt, the wide receiver position has been the most impressive overall for the Colts.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" lang="en"><p><a href="https://twitter.com/Coltsfanwilson">@Coltsfanwilson</a> what kind of trade would you feel well for the Colts to make searching for Boone?</p>&mdash; FanColtsBrasil (@BituJunior) <a href="https://twitter.com/BituJunior/statuses/498998766859726848">August 12, 2014</a></blockquote>

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When a talented offensive lineman like Alex Boone is being discussed as a possible trade candidate, it seems like a given that the Colts have to be in the discussion by fans.  This year is no different, as the team's offensive line has been plagued by injuries (Donald Thomas is out for the year and Khaled Holmes is out for a couple of weeks), and the interior of the team's line is incredibly inexperienced.  Boone is a talented player who could certainly help the Colts.  But let's consider this a bit more - what the Colts really need is center help, and now that Holmes is expected back for the opener I'd be surprised to see Ryan Grigson pull off a big trade.  And let's be clear that the Colts like both Jack Mewhort and Hugh Thornton, currently slotted as the two starting guards.  The Colts might not ideally want to start Mewhort as a rookie, but he's their long-term player (likely at guard).  The hope is that Thornton could be too.  So trading for Boone, who wants a new contract, might not make sense for the team as they'd likely be hesitant to give him that contract.  If they could get Boone for a mid-round pick and not have to extend him long-term on a big deal, then it might be worth a shot, but given all of the surrounding circumstances, I find it unlikely that the Colts will be serious players in a potential trade for Boone.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" lang="en"><p><a href="https://twitter.com/Coltsfanwilson">@Coltsfanwilson</a> What are your updated thoughts on the Running game for the Colts? Who do you see making the team?</p>&mdash; James (@lmoj2) <a href="https://twitter.com/lmoj2/statuses/499007285889232896">August 12, 2014</a></blockquote>

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My thoughts on the running game entering camp were this: it all depends on how Trent Richardson does this year, but there are good backup options in case he struggles again.  My thoughts on the running game right now is this: it all depends on how Trent Richardson does this year, and now the backup options are limited.  I do think that we've seen the worst of Richardson (last year), but I don't know just how improved he's going to be.  The success of the running game lies pretty much squarely on his shoulders.  Backup Ahmad Bradshaw is a very good running back too, and he will be huge if healthy.  But we'll just have to see if he truly does stay healthy.  I was of the opinion that Vick Ballard would probably have been starting by October anyway, so now that option doesn't exist - Richardson has to produce.  I also think both Dan Herron and Zurlon Tipton will make the roster and will be able to help, but the bottom line is that the running game for the Colts depends on Trent Richardson, just like it always has - only now, there's really no other option other than that Richardson simply must produce.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" lang="en"><p><a href="https://twitter.com/Coltsfanwilson">@Coltsfanwilson</a> True or False Andrew Luck finishes top 3 in MVP votes this year</p>&mdash; Dan Schulte (@showltee) <a href="https://twitter.com/showltee/statuses/499007797275525120">August 12, 2014</a></blockquote>

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I'll say true.  I'll offer my official predictions on the Colts and the NFL as we get closer to week one, so stay tuned, but the Colts should absolutely be a playoff team this year and the leader of the team is unquestionably Andrew Luck.  With the receiving options that he has, if he doesn't excel and the Colts offense isn't one of the best in the league, I think there will be some concern.  Luck has T.Y. Hilton, Reggie Wayne, Hakeem Nicks, Donte Moncrief, Dwayne Allen, Coby Fleener, and then backs like Trent Richardson and Ahmad Bradshaw as weapons - it's quite possibly the most dangerous and talented array of skill players and receiving targets of any team in the league.  With the improvement that coordinator Pep Hamilton has showed toward the end of last season, in training camp, and then in the first preseason game, there's plenty of reason to be hopeful about Hamilton and the offense - most notably, not holding Luck back.  And then I also think the line this year won't be as bad as last year, even if the improvement is minimal.  Plus, we all know just how good Luck is, and entering his third season in the league he should be even better.  He began to get some MVP talk last year, and this year I think we will see him firmly establish himself in the midst of that conversation.  With the incredible talent he possesses and then the incredible talent of receiving options that Luck has, there's no reason to think he can't enter serious MVP consideration in 2014.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" lang="en"><p><a href="https://twitter.com/Coltsfanwilson">@Coltsfanwilson</a> Do you think there is any chance this defense will improve over 2013 or are we looking at more of the same?</p>&mdash; Zachary Pittman (@ZacPittman) <a href="https://twitter.com/ZacPittman/statuses/499007935805018112">August 12, 2014</a></blockquote>

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The defense should definitely be improved from 2013.  We did see improvement from 2012 to 2013, particularly with the Colts moving to a top-ten scoring defense in the league.  Yeah, that's right - in terms of points per game, the Colts were the ninth best defense in the league last year.  What really needs to improve this year is the overall defense (not just scoring but everything), and I think we'll see that.  The pieces are certainly there, and there's reason to be optimistic.  The two biggest question marks are the pass rush and then the safeties, and if one of those groups can be resolved it would greatly help the other.  But overall, it's completely reasonable to expect improvement from the defense this year - especially after signing starters such as D'Qwell Jackson and Arthur Jones.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" lang="en"><p><a href="https://twitter.com/Coltsfanwilson">@Coltsfanwilson</a> Which level of Indy&#39;s D do u feel best about: d-line, linebackers, or secondary? <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Colts?src=hash">#Colts</a></p>&mdash; Steamboat_Shaun (@shonkerr) <a href="https://twitter.com/shonkerr/statuses/499008989774897152">August 12, 2014</a></blockquote>

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I actually feel pretty good about the Colts' front seven this year and I think it might be the best they've had in several years.  With Cory Redding, Josh Chapman, and Arthur Jones as the defensive line starters with backups like Ricky Jean Francois and Montori Hughes, the defensive line looks very promising.  Then at linebacker, the Colts have two good players in Jerrell Freeman and D'Qwell Jackson in the middle and then Robert Mathis (after week four) and Erik Walden as the outside linebackers, with Bjoern Werner also figuring to play a very prominent role.  It's the secondary that has question marks (with injuries and then with the safety spot), but the front seven actually looks very promising.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" lang="en"><p><a href="https://twitter.com/StampedeBlue">@StampedeBlue</a> the Colts will be ok with the safeties they have?</p>&mdash; Tiago Araruna (@tiagoararuna) <a href="https://twitter.com/tiagoararuna/statuses/499008508562800640">August 12, 2014</a></blockquote>

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It really depends on injuries.  If LaRon Landry and Delano Howell (two guys who were injured last year and who have missed some time in camp with injuries) stay healthy, the Colts should be fine at safety.  Landry shouldn't be as bad as he was last year, and him just starting every game would be a huge plus for the Colts.  Then with guys like Howell, Mike Adams, Colt Anderson, and Sergio Brown as either starters or depth guys, the Colts should have decent enough talent at the position to win games.  It won't be anything great, but if the safeties stay healthy (a huge if), I think the Colts should be ok.  But if some of those guys get injured, the position will be very thin and the Colts might be in trouble.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" lang="en"><p><a href="https://twitter.com/Coltsfanwilson">@Coltsfanwilson</a> Should the Colts pursue Richie Incognito?</p>&mdash; Steven Pearlstein (@SPearlstein2) <a href="https://twitter.com/SPearlstein2/statuses/499008870446952448">August 12, 2014</a></blockquote>

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No.  Simply put, the Colts shouldn't pursue Richie Incognito and the Colts won't pursue Richie Incognito - well, at least I'd be shocked if they did.  There's no denying that he's a good guard.  But the locker room concerns that come with him are too much.  The Colts are a close team and, while they've brought in some guys who have run into trouble in the past, those situations aren't really comparable to Incognitio's.  Bringing him in might seem like a good fit for the team (as they need line help), but for the locker room it seems like a terrible fit.  There's a reason a good offensive guard like Richie Incognito is still unemployed, and while a desperate team might take a flier on him at some point, I'd be shocked if that team is the Colts and I think it'd be the absolute wrong move for the team.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" lang="en"><p><a href="https://twitter.com/StampedeBlue">@StampedeBlue</a> Is Pat McAfee the Colts&#39; Kicker of the future? If not, who will be Adam&#39;s sucessor?</p>&mdash; Danilo Higa (@danilohiga) <a href="https://twitter.com/danilohiga/statuses/498999595515805696">August 12, 2014</a></blockquote>

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No.  There's no doubt that Pat McAfee wants to be the kicker once Adam Vinatieri retires, and I wouldn't be surprised to see the Colts give him a shot.  But realistically, I would be shocked if McAfee ends up as the replacement to Vinatieri.  Shocked.  McAfee is a terrific punter and has excelled in that area.  He does a great job with kickoffs.  And he has shown in training camp both this year and in past years that he can hit field goals, especially from a distance.  But firstly, while his leg is very strong, it's not as accurate as you'd like or like to think.  And secondly, while I hate to even say it, the reality is that there's some team that might decide to just take out McAfee because he serves as the team's all-around kicker.  I wish it wasn't true, but I wouldn't rule that out.  Let McAfee focus on his punting and kickoff duties, which he is great at, and bring someone in to replace Vinatieri when the time comes.