August 21, 2013

Colts' defense impresses in second preseason game

Ed Nason Colts Columnist

---- — It’s hard too get excited about the preseason, however the Colts have shown great improvement from their opening game last week. The Colts beat the New York Giants Sunday night in New York, 20-12, but it wasn’t the score that was exciting it was how the Colts got there.

The Colts had six sacks in the game vs. the Giants. Drake Nevis, third-year defensive Tackle had two sacks, doubling his entire last year totals. Caesar Rayford, a linebacker that was signed from Canadian Football League this year, also had two sacks. Linebacker Erik Walden and cornerback Marshay Green both finished the night with one each.

Colts new cornerback Greg Toler picked off Eli Manning on a crucial third-down pass and the Colts defense only allowed the Giants to convert 3 of 15 attempts on third down.

When coach Chuck Pagano was hired in January of 2012 he quickly spoke of wanting to build a “Monster Defense.”

That is no easy task as the Colts have not been known to be a defensive team since the late ‘80s. In fact, since 2000 the Colts have been ranked 20th or lower in overall defense seven times. Worse yet, dead last a couple of those years.

Pagano’s target: Top 5 in defense; this is something that has only happened four times in the Colts’ Indiana history, which is 30 years this year.

“We’re going to do whatever we have to do to keep building to be a dominant defense,” said Pagano. “We’ve shown signs through two games where we can do that. We have to trust the guy next to you that he’s going to be where he’s supposed to be.”

It looks like the days of having a one-sided team may just be on the verge of being behind the Colts.

As far as the offense goes the Colts looked as good as they could for only being their second preseason game. Andrew Luck was 9 of 13 for 107 yards and had two touchdowns. The first touchdown was maybe a little lucky as it was tipped to wide receiver Reggie Wayne, but hey, you take them all.

One of the downsides in the game was Coby Fleener, Colts second-year tight end, left the game with a knee sprain. Fleener’s MRI came back fine as he should be back in the lineup for this Saturday’s home game against the Browns for a 7 p.m. kickoff. Fleener has continued to show issues with ball security as he has dropped many and fumbled in the Colts preseason opener.

The Colts’ running game is not what they’re are shooting for yet. They have yet to have a 100-yard game on the ground as this was also a big emphasis of the off season as the Colts added a fullback to the roster. The Colts finished the game with their best of two games so far with 88 yards on the ground. The Colts also added a new power running back this year, Ahmad Bradshaw, the former Giants workhorse, in the offseason. Bradshaw should be ready for the regular season as he has a leg he is nursing from off season surgery. Let’s hope the running game picks up then.

Ed Nason is a Colts columnist for the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached through the sports department at 574-732-5180 or