Eric Hartz: The Colts haven't released an injury report yet this week (that includes which players are out, doubtful, questionable and probable), but my feeling is that Sanders won't play. They waited until late in the week to rule him out last week, but he spent all of training camp on the PUP list before being activated at the end of the preseason. His loss, of course, is significant, but the Colts are used to playing without him and Melvin Bullitt has proved he's more than capable of filling in.
Q: The Colts have had trouble stopping the run for years; is this year going to be any different?
EH: For all the talk of the beefing up on the defensive line, the defensive tackle rotation in the first game was similar to what it was last season, with Eric Foster, Daniel Muir and Antonio Johnson seeing most of the time. Ed Johnson joined the roster this week after serving a one-game suspension and will likely step right into the starting lineup. The Colts are hoping the duo of Johnson and Johnson can be stouter than in recent memory. This smallish defense will likely never be a steel curtain against the run, but with their pass rush and talented secondary, they don't need to be great — just solid.
Q: What kind of changes have the Colts made on defense with a new coordinator (Larry Coyer)?
EH: In training camp, I saw a lot of outside linebacker and some safety blitzes; the team also did some shifting with DEs Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis and Raheem Brock. The defense stayed pretty vanilla in the preseason, but they did blitz about 10 times vs. Jacksonville last week. Middle linebacker Gary Brackett was able to break through on two blitzes late in the game to put pressure on David Garrard. The Colts will likely continue to be judicious with the blitz throughout the season.
Q: Is Dwight Freeney in store for another big year?
EH: I think so. He and Robert Mathis combined for 22 sacks last season and made a number of game-changing plays. They both appear to be in the midst of their prime and could surpass those numbers this season. Freeney was able to get one sack against Jacksonville and two other quarterback hurries. His battle with Jake Long will certainly be one of marquee matchups on Monday night.
Q: Besides the obvious (Freeney, Robert Mathis), which Colts defenders should the Dolphins be concerned about Monday night?
EH: Gary Brackett is one of the more underrated defenders in the NFL and is the perfect fit for the middle of the Colts' defense. He gets to the ball and is excellent in coverage. Keep an eye on Ed Johnson in the middle as well — after a year out of the NFL and on his last chance to prove himself, he should be playing with plenty of aggression. In the secondary, Bullitt may be Sanders' backup, but he led the team in interceptions last season and was recently named a special teams captain, as well. Rookie CB Jerraud Powers has impressed everyone since arriving on the scene and even started last week. It will be interesting to see how he responds if the Dolphins try to challenge him.