Trying to guess who the Colts will have available in the front seven of the defense on Sunday is like solving a 1,000-piece puzzle.
Inside linebackers Jerrell Freeman and Kavell Conner, defensive end Cory Redding and nose tackle Antonio Johnson are the four players in the front seven who have been in the starting lineup for each of the Colts five games this season.
After those four, it has been a wait and see approach week-to-week for defensive coordinator Greg Manusky.
For the second straight week, the Colts will be without defensive tackle Fili Moala.
Outside linebacker Robert Mathis is hoping to return to the lineup after missing the Jets game with a knee injury.
Redding’s status is up in the air after leaving the Jets game in the first half.
Inside linebacker Pat Angerer is looking to see his first action of the season as a foot injury during the preseason has sidelined the Colts leading tackler from last season.
The Colts are already without nose tackles Brandon McKinney and Martin Tevaseu.
Defensive linemen Ricardo Matthews and Drake Nevis have seen action in every game this season and their health has been critical among a defensive front that has seen its fair share of fronts.
Currently three Colts defensive linemen on the active roster have been in Indianapolis for less than two weeks (defensive end Clifton Geathers was signed on Oct. 3, nose tackle Antonio Dixon was signed on Oct. 9 and defensive end Lawrence Guy was signed on Tuesday).
Offensive coordinator/interim head coach Bruce Arians doesn’t know who will be out there on Sunday, but can’t thank his staff enough for dealing with so many new faces.
“It’s a credit to the coaching staff to do what they’re doing. Our backup defensive line right now has a cumulative after today 10 practices. So, that’s a lot of new.”
“(Defensive line) Coach (Gary) Emanuel is earning his paycheck and he’s doing a heck of a job and we’ll see how it goes. We might get fortunate enough to get a couple guys back and they won’t have to play. But we’ll get ready for them to play and we’ll see how it goes.”
Freeman, the Colts leading tackler, hasn’t been in the NFL for more than a year but even he admitted that it seems like he’s introducing himself on a daily basis.
“New guys coming every day. That’s just the nature of this business,” Freeman said. “People come and go all the time. I just have to do what I can to keep my spot, keep my position.”
The middle of the front seven has remained intact (Johnson, Freeman and Conner) through the first five games but it’s the outside that has needed to be reshuffled.
Outside linebacker Dwight Freeney missed two of the first three games of the season and the Colts are still waiting to get their Pro Bowl duo on the outside together for longer than one game.
Mathis considers himself a fast healer and while he is hoping to play this weekend, he knows whoever is on that active roster must accomplish the task they were brought in to do.
“Whoever’s out there has to do their job. Everybody is here because they are special in some way. If you are on the field, you have to do your job, whether it’s pass rushing, defending passes, or throwing passes. You just have to get the job done.”
Tags: Antonio Dixon, brandon mckinney, bruce arians, Clfiton Geathers, cory redding, Dwight Freeney, Fili Moala, gary emmanuel, Greg Manusky, Jerrell Freeman, kavell conner, Lawrence Guy, Martin Tevaseu, pat angerer, robert mathis
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