Offseason Review: Defense

It was addition by, well, addition for the Indianapolis Colts this offseason, where they added some new faces and welcomed in some old ones. Brad Keller breaks down their progress so far.

Defensive Tackle:

Their biggest area of need got the most attention, with two selections in the first four rounds of this year's draft.

Fili Moala, provided he can give maximum effort on every play, will provide the Colts with the kind of disruptive influence they have not had on the interior in some time. Terrance Taylor has been dogged by similar effort issues, but John Teerlinck might just be the kind of influence that these young players need to take their game to the next level.

Keyunta Dawson will face stiffer competition at DT this summer
Donald Miralle/Getty Images

After also adding the deposed Ed Johnson to the lineup, Indianapolis is suddenly beefy at the position, boasting four players out of seven that weigh in excess of 300 pounds.

It will be up to Teerlinck and new defensive coordinator Larry Coyer to bolster the historically soft middle of the run defense without sacrificing any of the pass rushing acumen that these players have shown in the past.

The competition for roster spots provided by undrafted free agents Pat Kuntz and Adrian Grady will only improve the position as a whole.  Grady and Kuntz have as good a shot as anyone to make the roster given that the Colts have retained an undrafted free agent at defensive tackle in each of the last two seasons.  However, the improved depth may break that trend ... and that's a good thing.

The loss of Darrell Reid will hurt the kicking game as well as the tackle rotation, but, with the recent additions, the Colts seem to have addressed their need at the position and have come out well on top. If the run defense and the general performance of the defensive line improves in 2009, the moves orchestrated this offseason will certainly be seen as the impetus for that change.

Defensive End:

Without any real needs and with a depth chart that is fairly stocked with Pro Bowlers in Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis and young up-and-comers in Marcus Howard and Curtis Johnson, this position is fairly set for the present and the future.

The only issue is that Indianapolis did not seek out any variety in the draft or free agency and left the only "square peg" in the equation unsigned in Josh Thomas. But, since Raheem Brock and Keyunta Dawson can also take some snaps at end the Colts will be fine.


Surprisingly, Indianapolis did not address this position in the draft, but signed undrafted free agents Ramon Humber, Tyrell Sales, and Michael Tauiliili.  Also, their big free agent signing of Adam Seward bolstered the depth chart and they also re-signed Tyjuan Hagler and Freddy Keiaho.

It was a classic case of addition and, with the return of last year's third-round selection Philip Wheeler and the hopeful improvement of Jordan Senn, leaves the cabinet very stocked for when the time comes to choose the sparse number of roster spots available at the position.

Sales, Huber, and Tauiliili may not make the roster as Senn did last season, but, once again, that shows the preparedness and forward-thinking ability of Bill Polian and his staff.  The fact that competition for roster spots will be heated and that allegedly less qualified players will not make the team is a good thing and a sign that things may be changing in the new regime.


The Colts addressed the position during the draft, by adding Jerraud Powers and after the draft, with free agents Brandon Anderson, Jacob Lacey, and Brandon Harrison.

The issue with the cornerback position heading into the 2009 season is that there were so many injuries in 2008.  If all those players return healthy, the new regime includes Jim Caldwell and Alan Williams, who have ties to those players.

Odds are against anyone but Powers making the roster, given his draft status and the fact that he has the potential to contribute on both sides of the kicking game.

However, this is not meant to cast aspersions on the players that Indianapolis added.  It is simply a matter of the players on the roster returning healthy versus the talent added.  And, realistically, everyone is hoping that the injured incumbents from 2008 return healthy in 2009.


Though the Colts did not add any players through the draft or free agency, Harrison and Anderson both have experience at safety.  And, if they are smart, they should vie for snaps at either safety position.

Bob Sanders, Antoine Bethea, Matt Giordano, and Melvin Bullitt have locked down their roster spots on the strength of importance to the team and past performance.  Aside from that, there is, essentially, an open competition.

Jamie Silva and Brannon Condren have an advantage in that they've been in the system and have the confidence of their coaches &mash; although, with a new head coach, a new defensive coordinator, and a new special teams coordinator, it remains to be seen how much of an advantage that is.

The simple fact of the matter is that competition remains as the great equalizer.  By signing Harrison and Anderson, the Indianapolis front office ensured that no job was safe and that no roster spot is secure.

If Silva and Condren want to remain on the team, they must step up and win their opportunity.  With the added talent at the safety position, this battle is one that will be well worth watching as mini-camps, OTAs, and training camp — and the battles that unfold — continue to play out.

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