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Stampede Mailbag: Will Marlon Mack overtake Frank Gore in 2017?

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Houston Texans v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

The Indianapolis Colts will report to training camp today and we are merely hours away from the first official practice of the 2017 season. We are still questioning everything we hear and are ready for some real answers — ready to see where the road takes this roster after months of speculation.

Until then, let’s kick back and enjoy the last moments of stress free ‘offseason’ before we get into the real deal. Thank you all for your questions, and next week’s Stampede Mailbag will be presented on the Colts Cast as opposed to article form. Enjoy.

Scott Johnson

When do you think Peyton manning to the colts front office will happen? I know there was some serious chatter and speculation about it this off season.

Scott, I have to be honest with you here. I don’t think that’s happening, possibly ever. Whether or not there were legitimate discussions specifically pertaining to Manning taking a front office role with the Colts, I can’t say either way, but Chris Ballard is not a guy that you just throw away. I know a lot of people think that a Ballard/Manning combination is possible, however, I don’t think that would ever work.

We saw Jimmy Raye accept a job as the VP of football operations with the Houston Texans soon after Ballard was hired. There was some talk that he was not happy that he was passed over for the job – nor would anyone with a proud bone in their body – and though he was highly respected within the organization, he was ready to move on. He was a professional about it and didn’t make a stink, and it didn’t get a ton of attention.

Can you imagine how thick the atmosphere would be around the complex if Manning was brought in by Jim Irsay adding him to Ballard’s staff or giving him some new moniker within the organization? Ballard is the GM, Manning coming in would instantly threaten that regardless of what Manning’s title was. Whether assertively or passively, it would and Ballard would recognize it. In my honest opinion, if Manning comes in it’d have to be in a situation in which Ballard blew it, and would conceivably be well down the road.

J Mike Cross

I assume that everyone had to weigh in at minicamp. Was this data shared with the media or made available anywhere? I just wondered if anyone came in significantly different than we saw last year, or what they were listed as when they came out of college. In short, do we know if anyone made any position change sort of transformations?

I'm in a very, very small minority (okay, I could be the only one) of fans who think that Green has a frame 6'2" that could handle 15 - 20 extra lbs and see him be the best safety suited to line up in the box a few plays per game. He is a willing hitter, even if it is the wrong team on occasion. I hate to see a player become a wasted pick so quick, so I'd hope the Colts exhaust all options before burying him on the depth charts.

Mike, as far as their known measurements, Colts.com has all of those available on their roster page. I’ve not heard, nor have I heard anyone else speak directly about any anomalies with weight other than Zach Banner expectedly dropping weight as time passes.

Most players aren’t going to produce a noticeable weight transformation until they’ve been in the program for a while – I feel it’s most noticeable between their second and third seasons. I don’t believe anyone made any significant alterations to their physiques between school and the offseason program.

As far as Green goes, he does have frame that could handle a bit more weight theoretically, and that might suit him in a more pigeonholed role as a box safety. However, Green’s entire upside depends on his speed and ability to cover. More weight would likely only exacerbate his issues in coverage, and could also add unexpected injuries if his frame isn’t necessarily built for that type of change. Green’s ability to be physical, rush the passer from inside the box while maintaining his current structure is an asset to the defense. He just simply has to get ‘it’ between now and the beginning of the season.

Tim Sutherland

My question is how much will you be able to cover training camp on a daily basis? Josh always did a great job with his daily breakdowns and updates, which really helped it feel like football was back. With the new location and different staff that obviously have their own lives and responsibilities, how much will you be able to be the eyes of all of us who can't make it?

Tim, this year is a bit strange for anyone other than for those who have been covering the team for a long time, or are in the ‘big leagues’ for a lack of better words. Myself and, our newest writer, Jake Arthur have been covering camp for a few years now, but with the move to the Colts’ complex there’s less space for everything (parking, a seat in the media trailer etc..).

I am hoping to get some time at camp to get some interviews done, and get some photos for everyone to enjoy as well as to pass on what I’m seeing as camp progresses. The reality, though, is that for all of the changes that have taken place, this year’s coverage may be pretty spotty.

Sam Natale

I have a pet peeve that still makes no sense to me - Why does the NFL have a game day roster? It seems to go against their ‘safety first’ policy. For example, say a team has two guards go down during a game, and they have a healthy one inactive that day. They’d be forced to use a player out of position or an injured player would have to keep going, while a healthy guy is sitting on the bench.

The owners are paying all 53, why not let everyone play? I’ve heard the ‘it keeps the teams on a level playing field’ and ‘every player has a backup’, and even ‘trying to prevent specialty players’. The NFL is a specialty league, meaning there are more than 22 positions now.

Also, can you expand on the PUP rules? Specifically, why is it advantageous for the Colts to put Hooker or Luck on the preseason PUP list? Why not just sit them out of practice? The only reason I can gather is that it would allow them to go on to the Reserve PUP list once the season starts. Does putting a player on PUP (either version) allow the team a financial advantage, or allow an extra player on the roster while those others are on PUP?

Sam, I couldn’t agree more. I cannot stand the gameday active/inactive aspect. My assumption is that it’s intended to add to the gamesmanship of the gameday choices which I get, but I’m not a fan of. I believe you hit on the actual reason for it though. It’s supposed to allow teams some room for injuries and the ability to have more guys available for practice throughout the week.

In fact, back in the 1992/1993 season the rosters were only 47 deep altogether and each team could dress 45 of those. In March of ’93 they expanded those rosters to a 53-man roster in favor of the reasons above.

As far as the PUP rules, I asked George Bremer about that very thing the other day on the Colts Cast to get his thoughts on how the team/Hooker benefits from him being on the PUP. In the preseason and during camp players can come off at any time and in the case of Hooker and especially Luck, the team wants them to be focusing on treatment and any necessary rehab as opposed to them virtually wasting time watching practice and doing nothing.

My assumption for putting Hooker on after even a minor tweak of the hamstring is due to the team’s inability to add him to the preseasons PUP once that player has taken the practice field. The rookie conditioning week (where Hooker injured his hammy) doesn’t count as a practice.

I don’t believe there are any financial reservations, but when a player is put on the PUP for the regular season they must sit out at least 6 weeks, then the team can reevaluate his situation and decide to take him off or leave him on. The team has roughly 8 more weeks to get him practicing and on the field or he’ll remain on the PUP indefinitely. While this player is on the regular season PUP another player can be added to the 53-man roster. I hope all of that was helpful.

Luke Rochevot

What are your thoughts on the Colts offensive scheme last year under Rob Chudzinski? Was it too offensive line heavy, pass catcher heavy, or what? It felt too limited in my eyes. Also, when, if at all, do you see Marlon Mack start over Gore in the 2017 season?

Hey Luke. I’ll just relay to you what I saw last season. Through about the midway point in the season last year the offensive line was allowing multiple pressures far too often. By that I mean it wasn’t just one defender breaking through the line, several seemed to be all at once. The improvement came later on when they weren’t as porous in multiple spots. Thus resulting in fewer sacks.

Luck had the opportunity to escape one rusher, as opposed to trying to find a lane away from multiple. Of course this wasn’t always the case, just appeared to be a part of the law of averages. Chudzinski’s system is pretty different. A mix of what the Colts used under Bruce Arians (long developing routes) with some very confusing route combinations.

I think Chud lacked a bit of creativity in different aspects of his play calling, and design, but then he’d throw out a brilliant succession of plays on a drive audibly making you say “where has that been?”

Looking ahead, Chud will be challenged to get Jack Doyle involved in the passing game AND maintain a legitimate blocker with any of the others at the position this season. Marlon Mack could be his true savior quite honestly. We know, and so does everyone else, exactly what Gore and Turbin offer the offense.

Mack won’t rack up huge snap counts this year, but how effective his touches are and how Chud uses his speed and ability to use him in some outside zone runs and then counters those with utilizing his size for power over the guards and inventive routes out of the backfield. Simply put, a lot will be riding on how quickly Mack gets his pass protection in order.

I don’t think he’ll take over the starting spot at all during this season pending an unforeseen injury, but he could be a major player if he can hang on to the ball and is a worker preparing for the season.

Brendan Maclean

Hey Matt! I’ve really enjoyed your podcasts for a while now, and followed you over to Stampede Blue from Locked On Colts. My question is: if you had to re-sign two of Mewhort, Moncrief and Vontae after this year, which two would you sign and why?

Thank you Brendan, I appreciate your listenership very much. That’s a great question because the Colts very much need for all of them to be at their absolute best this year. However, if I can only re-up with two of these following the season is has to be Moncrief and Mewhort.

First of all, they’re both significantly younger than Davis and that, honestly, might even be enough for my decision. But, to build upon the decision you have to look at their positions and what they offer. Mewhort, specifically, is likely the Colts best all-around offensive lineman.

I understand he’s been injured of late and needs a complete healthy season to truly cash in at some point before this time next season. Mewhort would get good money from me, but I can’t say that I’d be offering him a long-term extension. He’s a must to keep around if you hope to avoid any setbacks in the line’s development.

Moncrief is the team’s unquestioned No 2 receiver. At the moment nobody, no not even Chester Rogers, is challenging that status. And unless the Colts are going to find another 24 year old with his potential, size and skill set – you know, because they grow on trees – he’s got to be your guy. Just the same, he’s getting No 2/No 3 money from me at this point, but I’d be willing to go long-term with Moncrief.

Davis is still a real quality talent. He was, only a couple short years ago, one of the best in the game. Last year was a disappointment, but I think he can bounce back this season without question. It’s the years after that which have me worried when talking contract extension.

Preferably I’d have liked to have another young corner in addition to Quincy Wilson with some immediate starting traits already on the roster, but I think the options are there to move on more easily from Davis than Moncrief or Mewhort.

Thank you all for your questions for this week’s Stampede Mailbag, you can submit yours for next week’s edition at stampedemailbag@gmail.com.