In two preseason games, the Indianapolis Colts defense has looked fairly porous vs. Buffalo Bills and fairly potent vs. the New York Giants. So which is it?
As might be expected, Colts coach Chuck Pagano feels the six sacks, with no touchdowns allowed, in a 20-12 win over the Giants on the road Sunday was the real indicator of defensive good times to come.
“That's how we want to play,” Pagano said in a teleconference Monday. “There were so many good things and a lot of players contributed and did some great things.
“We want to be a dominate defense,” Pagano said. “From Day One we've talked about that and we're putting the pieces together.”
Some of the pieces remain to be seen, including returning linebacker Pat Angerer and new safety LaRon Landry, both of whom could play this Saturday night against Cleveland in their 2013 debut. Rookie outside linebacker Bjoern Werner was solid in his debut against the Giants.
Other, less-touted players also made an impact in their time on the field on Sunday. Defensive tackle Drake Nevis and linebacker Caesar Rayford, for example, logged two sacks apiece.
Nevis comes with an innate motor, Pagano said.
“He's relentless in his pass rush and he's a powerful, powerful guy,” Pagano said. “He's an explosive guy.”
Nevis is somewhat of a known commodity, having been with the Colts for two seasons. Rayford is a rookie free agent signee who played at Washington.
“He's making a case for himself, obviously,” Pagano said. “He's done a great job coming in not knowing anything about what we're doing and showing up on Game Day having done a great job preparing during the week. He practices extremely hard, he's got great enthusiasm and he's got things you can't coach in length, size and athletic ability.”
Rayford is far from a lock to make the opening-day 53-man roster, however.
“He has a long way to go, but he's taking advantage of the opportunity in getting out there,” Pagano said.
In injury news, Pagano said tight end Coby Fleener underwent an MRI on his slightly sprained knee and it came back negative. But Fleener will have some time off to heal, Pagano said. It's uncertain whether he will be available on Saturday night. Pagano also mentioned the possibility that tight end Dwayne Allen and running back Ahmad Bradshaw could see some playing time this week in practice, if not the home game against Cleveland.