The Indianapolis Colts are going to surprise people in 2012. Expectations can't be lower and there is still talent up and down the roster in Indianapolis. Head coach Chuck Pagano and his hybrid 3-4 defense have replaced and outdated system that fans had become accustomed to in Indianapolis. Many of the players from the 2011 defensive unit remain, but will benefit from the new scheme on defense.
The defensive line is much bigger and will put up more of a fight in the trenches this year. The addition of Cory Redding, Brandon McKinney, and possibly Josh Chapman will provide bulk up front and allow the team to be more stout against the run. This will also free up the linebackers to make more plays this season.
The team recently released their first depth chart and currently lists all veterans as starters. If the veterans are able to adjust to the new system, the team could see a rapid turnaround in the right direction. All indications are that the veterans have bought into the system and are beginning to feel more comfortable in their new roles. If Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney are able to excel as outside linebackers, the teams defense could be a lot more imposing this season.
The biggest question mark remaining is the second starting cornerback spot opposite Jerraud Powers. The team currently lists Cassius Vaughn as the starter. Vaughn played the last two seasons in Denver with the Broncos. It's very likely that a possible starter or even significant contributor at cornerback is someone currently not on the roster. Indianapolis still retains the top priority on the waiver wire as players from other teams are released and subject to waivers. This leaves the team in a great position to add players that are cut because they either don't fit in with a team or because another team may have too much depth at a position. This could be a major factor for Ryan Grigson and the front office as cuts begin to take place around the league.
As a fan, I'm excited about so much change and uncertainty. It makes for excitement as the season begins. The new defensive scheme will be different for Colt fans, but I think the unit has the potential to be significantly improved in 2012.
Kyle Rapoza is a Featured Contributor for the Yahoo! Contributor Network and has been a lifelong fan of the Indianapolis Colts. He attended Super Bowl XLIV in Miami and follows the team closely.
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