Colts Defensive Burning Questions Bye Week Edition

Intro: At the bye week, the Colts sit at 4-5 and atop the AFC South. What are the things to watch on the defensive side of the ball in the final seven games of the regular season?

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INDIANAPOLIS –The Colts defense heads into the Week 10 bye facing its biggest injury of the 2015 season.

With Henry Anderson on injured reserve, the Colts must replace one of their best defenders from this year.

Here's a look at the defensive burning questions heading final seven games remaining in 2015:

Who needs to step up on the Colts defensive line with Henry Anderson on injured reserve?

Before the season started, I had Arthur Jones in my five most "indispensable Colts" of 2015.

When Jones went down, rookie Henry Anderson slid right into that spot.

Now the Colts are down to their "third string" guy at the position Jones was expecting to occupy in 2015.

Billy Winn and Zach Kerr seem to be the most likely candidates to try and make up for Anderson's immense loss.

When the Colts traded for Winn in early September, they acquired a player with 18 career starts. In Indianapolis, Winn has been productive in a reserve role.

Since signing as an undrafted free agent in 2014, Kerr has excelled in backup duties, even recording three sacks in just 12 games last season.

It goes without saying that the Colts need to continue to have David Parry play above his rookie status and see the same sort of production Kendall Langford has provided week in and week out.

This group has played much better in 2015, but now they have been tested once again.

STAT TO NOTE: Kendall Langford's 121 straight games played is the longest current streak of any NFL defensive lineman.**

Will the Colts pass rush become more consistent in the second half of 2015?**

Last year, we saw the Colts struggle to consistently pressure the NFL's top quarterbacks.

In 2015, the Colts go into their bye week having sacked Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Cam Newton and Peyton Manning a total of seven times in the past four weeks.

Manning was only sacked once, but two key pressures from Kerr and Parry led to interceptions.

One definite benefit from the pass rush this season has been the individual presence of Robert Mathis.

With No. 98 producing (four sacks in limited snaps this season), we are starting to see more and more attention come his way from blocking assignments.

If Mathis can continue to produce, like he's done in recent weeks, that's going to enhance the favorable matchups opposite from where he lines up.

The Colts are also going to see no where near the quarterback gauntlet in the second half of 2015 from what they just encountered in closing out the first half of the season.

STAT TO NOTE: Robert Mathis ranks 19th on the NFL's all-time sack list with 115.0 career sacks.**

Will rookie cornerback D'Joun Smith help the secondary when he comes off the injured reserve-designated to return list?**

Before we get into Smith, the immediate question for the secondary regards the health of Mike Adams.

The veteran safety isn't expected to miss much time (if any at all) after he said, "I'm healthy, but a little bit banged up," earlier this week.

Now, at cornerback, it remains to be seen just how quickly the Colts can get Smith up to game speed.

The rookie is eligible to return to game action against Atlanta (11/22), coming off the injured reserve designated to return list.

There just is such little tape to evaluate Smith on, with him dealing with injuries during the preseason and then all of the regular season.

If the Colts can get more consistent play from Greg Toler that would go a long way in keeping the secondary sound in the final seven games of 2015.

The Colts will be tested in the second half of the season with three of the NFL's premier receivers waiting (Atlanta's Julio Jones, Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown and Houston's DeAndre Hopkins).

STAT TO NOTE: Mike Adams' 10 interceptions since 2014 ranks No. 1 in the NFL.

A sneak peak inside the Colts locker room following their win over the Broncos.

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