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Stampede Mailbag: Is Zach Banner the right tackle of the future for the Colts?

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NFL: Indianapolis Colts-Training Camp Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

As I promised I have added a mid-week mailbag this week in order to cover all of the questions submitted. We are getting extremely close to seeing actual football, albeit a preseason game, and the excitement should be festering in all of us.

Thank you all again for your questions, and if you don’t see your question here, please don’t worry, it will be all set for Saturday’s edition. Let’s go!

Nick (BritColt)

Hi Matt, Who will kick off for the Colts if Vinatieri and Locke win the kicking duties? Would you agree this is where Rigoberto Sanchez has his best edge in making the team? Roster places are like gold dust so we can't keep all three, can we? There's no stats for this but I wonder how many yards in field position we lose without Pat McAfee this year.

The club needs Sanchez to beat out Locke as punter and reserve linebacker Rhodes to long-snap so that the team can find and keep an explosive kick returner (perhaps a guy not yet on the team) even if that's his only role. After all, yards are yards however you can pick them up. Your thoughts? Best regards

Nick, to be perfectly honest I don’t know who would if only Vinatieri and Locke are on the roster. In my time at camp Sanchez was the only one I saw kicking off, and he did pretty well. He also had a span where he went 3 or 3 from 50 yards or more. Locke is a quality punter, my assumption is that he could kick off as well, but if not, it doesn’t seem that Vinny would be the ideal choice to handle the kickoff duties.

If it comes down to it, and the choice is between Vinny and Locke with Vinny kicking off, or Vinny and Sanchez with Sanchez ultimately handling Pat McAffee’s former duties I think I would have to roll with Sanchez. All of that is of course reliant on that Sanchez can be as good as Locke with the punting duties.

There’s no way, in my own opinion, that the team would keep all three, and I like the idea of saving roster spots with Sanchez and Rhodes – the team is going to need them at some critical positions.

Robert Emert

Matt, thanks for starting up the mailbag. I like that fact that you say what you think and don't have to worry about sugar coating anything when talking about the team and how they play like those who work for the team. What's your thoughts on TJ Green? Any chance we put him into the Geathers’ role on dime packages? Or an extra blitzer from the outside?

I hope we're not limiting his opportunities to grow on the 3rd units. Also, thoughts on bringing in a veteran pass rusher strictly for situational pass rush downs? Since Sheard and Simon will be playing most of the game... we will need fresh legs... I think having Dwight Freeney or Paul Kruger or even Deandre Levy rather than a rookie or Mingo would be better when you’re counting on some pressure during those key 3rd downs? Thanks, Rob

Thank you Rob. I really enjoy doing it and I’m glad that the reception has been so positive for it. I really feel for those who may be in a position in which they feel they cannot speak freely like that as well. They do find creative ways to get their points across, though, which I think speaks to their ability to work around restrictions, unspoken or otherwise.

Green is really interesting this year. I haven’t seen anything that makes me feel like Ted Monachino apparently does about him, that he has grown by leaps and bounds. But, then again, I’m on the outside looking in. I don’t know what is being asked of Green, Monachino does obviously. But, as far as his role this year, yes, I believe he will be used in a Geathers type of role – it’s what he’s best at, rushing the passer and dropping into the box late to help in run support.

Funny that you mention Freeney. He was someone that I thought the Colts should consider taking a look at to help do what Robert Mathis is doing through practice, just having Freeney do it with them on the practice field suited up. However, I think the Colts are satisfied with where they are right now at the position until the 53-man cut downs come down. My guess is that they feel they could get better value, and a younger body by waiting for an unexpected cut somewhere.

Glenn Bass

Hunt, Rhodes and Dorsett - All three are guys who should be mainstays of our special teams in my opinion, but can the likes of Hunt and Rhodes realistically compete at DE and ILB for roster spots? And why hasn't Dorsett been given a real chance as a punt returner, after all he was fairly effective doing it for Miami in college?

Could Dorsett even be moved into the backfield on 3rd downs and act in a manner similar to Darren Sproles? Although with Mack on the roster maybe he has taken this role already. Regards, UKCOLT in England

I’ll start with Margus Hunt, Luke Rhodes and Phillip Dorsett. Right now? Yes, Hunt and Rhodes can, and are actually competing for a roster spot. I have been pleasantly surprised with Hunt thus far, he’s got great length and has the strength and effort factor to plug in to what the team needs right now for their depth spots. In fact, now that Kendall Langford has been released, Hunt is a VERY real possibility.

Rhodes does have the longsnapping addition to his game, but as a linebacker, the Colts really like him. It’ll be fun to watch Rhodes and Sean Spence in the preseason to see who is actually performing better. I didn’t expect Spence to be where he is on the depth chart, but there he is.

Dorsett was actually tried out at punt returner at one time in his rookie season, but muffed a couple if my memory serves me correctly, but I agree, he should be given another attempt in order to save a spot and maybe add some dynamic to that role. Yep, you worked yourself out of that one. Marlon Mack is in that backfield now, and Dorsett wouldn’t be as good a weapon as Mack would be under any circumstances.

John Frasure

Hey Matt, Just listened to your podcast from the end of the 1st week of camp. Great stuff, but it made me wonder if the defense is looking good/improved because of the mediocre play at QB? Especially In The defensive backfield. Glad to hear the front guys are looking good. Is Bostic the real deal, because this has been a pattern with him, looking great in the practices and poor performance in games?

Hey John, that’s a good point and is something worth noting about the quarterbacks. I think you can say that with Tolzien and Morris throwing the ball instead of Luck the defense is naturally going to win more often than they would otherwise. However, it’s the technique and power, at least up front with the defensive line that stands out so much to me.

The secondary is working well in coverage, and the linebackers are playing really well against the run and diagnosing in the short passing game. I have heard that – about Bostic – so much lately, and there’s no way that I can give you an honest answer. The only thing I can offer is that he looks very good, physical, good in coverage, quick and sure of himself and takes smart angles against the run.

I think after his rookie season, his injuries started to take a steady toll on what he could accomplish, but of course, I don’t know this to be fact – only speculation. If he can stay healthy, though, he certainly looks like an upgrade to what was on the field last season.

JJT98

How about the 5th round corner [Nate Hairston]? Also, does Haeg look stronger? And what is Walker weighing in at?

Hairston has been pretty solid I’d say. He’s been playing more as a boundary corner than in the nickel role, which I think most expected him to be in. He isn’t blowing anyone away, but his technique is nice, and he’s an athletic guy who can be a major asset in special teams right away, and possibly a rotational corner in the next year or so.

Haeg has looked strong so far. He’s holding up against this revamped defensive line who have been phenomenal when I’ve been watching. Stronger? I can’t say for sure, but he’s doing nice anchoring and is timing his hands nicely. That’s about all I had time to pay attention to in just a few days.

Right now the Colts have him weighing in at 242 pounds which I think is okay as long as he can maintain his speed and ability to cover effectively. He, too, has looked pretty good – better than I expected, as I wasn’t a fan of his college film – and the coaches are taking notice as well. His spot on the depth chart falls in line with where he’s been through camp as well. I’m excited to see what he can do with ‘live bullets’.

Lolrof

Not much has been said of Zach Banner. Is there serious hope that one day he’ll be RT with Clark holding down LT? Or was he seen as mostly a depth pick?

My original assumption was that this pick was pointless to be perfectly honest. Right now he’s listed as the No. 2 right tackle and I think that’s generous. Banner, to this point, has been a mauler. When he gets ahold of a defender, it’s all over with. When the defender is quick and has a quality secondary pass rush move, or a good initial move to remain slippery, Banner can’t keep up.

He is very big and is a chore to get around, but he also sets himself up for failure in his pass sets. He drops too deep to quick, allowing the pass rusher to beat him to the inside with ease. Personally, I’d rather him force the rusher to beat him on the edge to allow the quarterback to step up into the pocket and still have the ability to make a play.

Allowing the rusher to get through inside of him is how quarterbacks get decapitated. I think they selected him as a project, but a fourth-round selection is a high pick for a project with some others on the board who – in my opinion – were significantly better. But, they know what they are drafting for, I apparently have no clue whatsoever.

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