Freeney, Powers, Kuharsky: Colts D better

ANDERSON, Ind. -- Presuming a bigger contribution from Bob Sanders, a healthy Kelvin Hayden, improvement from the young defensive tackles and cornerbacks and better options on the edge behind Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, the 2010 Colts defense could be among the best of the Peyton Manning era.

What’s the weak spot? If there is one, it’s hardly glaring.

“I think whenever you have a collection of guys who’ve been here that long, experience counts for a lot,” Freeney said. “We’ve shown a lot of big strides early. Compared to last year, we were learning the defense, it was new to all of us. This year we know what to expect, have a lot of those veteran guys back there and more experience up front. We should be better.”

The Colts will never be known as a defensive team because they are Manning’s team. But the defense is too often glossed over.

This is a team that went to the Super Bowl with two rookie cornerbacks, Jerraud Powers and Jacob Lacey, playing a ton. It ranked eighth in points allowed, the most important defensive category there is.

Coordinator Larry Coyer will be more comfortable in his second season just as his players will be more comfortable with him. And I expect he asks them to do more.

“I think we’re 10 times better than what we were last year,” Powers said. “The second go-round is always easier. ... We’ve got some problems -- look at safety, we’ve got Melvin Bullitt, Bob [Sanders] and Antoine Bethea. It’s a problem to get everybody on the field and that’s a good thing to have. We’re going to be a pretty good defense.”