INDIANAPOLIS – Robert Mathis played 192 career NFL games. Mike Adams has suited up 190 times. D'Qwell Jackson for 141 contests.
That experience has evaporated from the Indianapolis Colts, and more specifically their defensive unit.
If you want to take it a step further, Trent Cole (176 career games), Erik Walden (129), Patrick Robinson (81) and Arthur Jones (63) are all gone from last season.
Adding new faces was the theme of the offseason for the Colts.
Beginning Monday, the start of the team's nine-week off-season program, trying to mesh the new with the old will be a serious storyline.
"We have to develop new leaders," Chuck Pagano says of the newness that has taken shape on this year's roster. "That's on me and the coaching staff to develop new leaders.
"The guys who are coming in, the quicker they can adapt to your culture and your environment and your core values, the better we're going to be."
Andrew Luck is the most obvious name to take on even more of a leadership burden.
Guys like T.Y. Hilton and Vontae Davis are not the biggest talkers, but their leadership responsibilities have grown for 2017. Pagano has even mentioned a guy like Jack Doyle, another quieter individual, as someone who must become more vocal.
Defensively is where more of the leadership questions lie.
- Will new safety Darius Butler be a guy the Colts turn to with more than half of that unit's starters from last year now gone?
- Can nine-year veteran Kendall Langford return to full health and be a much-needed voice within the defensive front?
- Who will take D'Qwell Jackson's place to signal in the defensive plays to the rest of the unit?
Predicting captains or guys that will break down a post-game huddle is anyone's guess right now for the 2017 Colts.
It's one of the caveats that comes with getting younger.
But Pagano knows it's largely on his staff to prosper the leadership aspect.
"Chris (Ballard) and his scouting staff, along with the coaches, have done a great job of bringing in guys with football character, guys who love the game, who are passionate about the game, guys who are selfless guys, will put the team first and themselves second, to come in and fill those roles and replace those guys," Pagano says.
"Because of their football character and the men that they are and the way they love this game and love winning, when you get guys like that, it makes the coaching side of it a heck of a lot easier. There's going to be some transition. There's going to be a period where the new guys have to learn the schemes on offense and defense and you have to carve out roles for these guys and find their niche. But we have guys who are workers and are willing to do whatever they have to do to find that role."
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