Colts excited about new defenders, options

ANDERSON, Ind. -- Interchangeable.

That's the word the Indianapolis Colts are using when talking about their defense. That has to be a good sign, especially when thinking back to last season's defensive unit.

It was 26th in the league in total defense, 29th and and 21st against the run and pass, respectively.

Gone is Dwight Freeney, who spent 11 seasons causing havoc on opposing quarterbacks for the Colts. Freeney is now playing on the West Coast in San Diego.

Experience in the 3-4 defensive scheme combined with some faces has the Colts believing they'll be a better unit this season.

"What I like best is you’re not handicapping guys," defensive end Cory Redding said. "You’re not handcuffing them and telling them you have to do this and you have to do that. In this defense it’s interchangeable positions....all the guys on the defense have the freedom to do whatever they have to do to get the job done. That’s what I like about it. You just fly around. You never know who is coming and who is not. You can’t really key on too many guys because everybody is interchangeable."

Redding -- still talking about being interchangeable -- even joked that he could play free safety.

The Colts added Aubrayo Franklin and Ricky Jean Francois on the defensive line. Safety LaRon Landry -- the great human specimen, according to defensive coordinator Greg Manusky -- and cornerback Greg Toler are new in the secondary, and the team added Erik Walden at linebacker.

“I think we have the body size and the right type of people for the system,” Redding said.

The secondary, which includes Vontae Davis and Antoine Bethea --holdovers from last season -- has been aggressive in its coverage so far in training camp.

“I think they’re playing together as a unit," Manusky said. "Last year was a little bit different because it was all new to everybody. For right now they’re feeling comfortable with the calls, comfortable with one another and they’re feeding off each other, which is great as a defense."

Redding took it a step further.

“In my mind, it’s night and day," he said. "Last year, we did some good things, but still we needed a lot of work against the run, a lot of work against the pass, a lot of work at different things and scheme-wise. It’s night and day, man. We have the body size, the type of men that are built for this system and have played in this type of system around other teams, so all they have to do is learn the terminology."


• Tight end Dwayne Allen missed the morning walk thru, as he was having his foot checked out.

• Offensive lineman Justin Anderson has a "significant pec" injury and could end up having surgery.

• Offensive lineman Joe Reitz returned to practice after dealing with stinger, while safety Joe Lefeged is bothered by a strained calf and is using a walking boot.