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Colts defensive unit makes the most of its abbreviated playing time

Intro: After nearly a dozen days of hitting each other, the Colts defense finally got to do that to someone else. The first team defense played two complete drives together on Sunday, allowing two first downs, zero points and forcing a turnover.





INDIANAPOLIS –Missing two front-line starters and the team's 2013 first-round draft pick didn't matter to the Colts first-team defense on Sunday.

The unit pitched a shutout in two full series against Buffalo, including getting their hands on a fumble during the Bills' second possession.

While the starting unit did not log major minutes together on Sunday, the chance to get back into the realm of competition was welcomed by all players.

"It's always good to play football, hit somebody else other than your teammates and just get through this preseason," defensive end Cory Redding said.

"We are going to get a lot of valuable things out of this tape, to see all the things that we messed up on, to see all the holes that we need to correct, those are big issues."

Buffalo running back C.J. Spiller broke off runs of 17 and 15 yards to open up the Bills first offensive series.

After that though, the Colts first-team defense forced a punt, recovered a fumble and held the Bills to a field goal on Buffalo's first three possessions.

"As far as the first-team defense, I thought we played well," linebacker Kavell Conner said. "It definitely starts up front, stopping the run and then third-down success follows."[


Last season, the Colts forced just 15 takeaways which ranked at the bottom of all 2012 playoff teams.

Creating more opportunities for the offense is something that has been a focus for the Colts defense all season and that chance came midway through the first quarter.

Buffalo quarterback E.J. Manuel and Spiller could not handle an exchange and Colts cornerback Josh Gordy pounced on the loose ball.

From there, the Colts offense took over at the Bills 24-yard line and started a drive that ended with Indianapolis scoring the first three points of the game.

In the second half, some Colts newcomers showed a knack for not only causing turnovers but turning them into points without the help of the offense.

Early in the fourth quarter, Colts outside linebacker Caesar Rayford stripped Bills quarterback Jeff Tuel and undrafted free agent cornerback Daxton Swanson scooped up the loose ball with open field ahead of him.

"It's an amazing feeling," Swanson said of seeing no one in front of him on his way to a 72-yard touchdown. "I just knew it was a touchdown and nobody was going to catch me."

That defensive highlight will be something the Colts lean on as they head back to Anderson to wrap up training camp this coming week.

"The point of preseason is to get better every day, look back at what you did and just make improvements," starting safety Delano Howell said. "After four games, you want to be pretty close to perfection so that's what you want to do."INJURY NOTES

On Sunday, some defensive starters begin to trickle out of the lineup near the end of the first quarter as the Colts were trying to save a unit that was playing without linebacker Jerrell Freeman (shoulder) and safety LaRon Landry (knee).

2013 first-round draft pick Bjoern Werner worked out before the game but head coach Chuck Pagano said the staff decided to hold the outside linebacker out after he did not feel 100 percent.

During the game the Colts lost linebacker Justin Hickman (foot), linebacker Quinton Spears (hamstring), cornerback Cassius Vaughn (wrist) and defensive tackle Montori Hughes (stinger).

Hickman and Vaughn will have MRIs later tonight and Pagano said he should have an update on those two during his Monday conference call.

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