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Defensive Burning Questions going into the Regular Season

Intro: With the Colts regular season opener just three days away, here’s a look at some burning questions at the defensive position groups.





INDIANAPOLIS –Now it's onto the defensive side of the football for a group with a much different look than it had in 2012.

The first-team defense provided a glimpse of what this season could hold when it shut out the Browns in two and a half quarters of action on Aug. 24.

The sample size for the defense will now be much greater with the regular season just three days away.

Here's a look at some burning questions at each positional group…

How will the playing time up front play out?Chuck Pagano said during the offseason that the Colts would be cutting players along the defensive line who would go on and play for other teams.

That was the case over the weekend and the defensive line now heads into the regular season with a seven-man group that can play a variety of roles.

The veteran starting group of Cory Redding (11 years), Aubrayo Franklin (11 years) and Ricky Jean Francois (5 years) is set but a group of three younger players and Fili Moala will provide ample depth.

Nose tackle Josh Chapman should continue to spell Franklin and the Colts are hoping that the five-year veteran Moala makes his 2013 debut soon.

Can the Colts pass rush create big play ability for the defense?Robert Mathis 91.5 career sacks and five straight Pro Bowls speak for themselves but it's no secret that No. 98 will be receiving a lot of attention from opposing scouting reports in 2013.

New free agent outside linebacker Erik Walden is thought of as more of an edge setter but he showed flashes of pass rush ability during the preseason.

Rookie Bjoern Werner is a mainstay in the Colts nickel packages and should be opposite Mathis on obvious passing downs.

With guys like Jean Francois and Redding occupying blockers in the middle, that should free up some one-on-one chances (for Walden and Werner particularly) on the edge for the Colts pass rushers.

Last year, the Colts finished 25th in the league in sacks per pass attempt and if that number improves in 2013, then expect more big plays out of an aggressive defensive unit.What's in store for the Colts safety duo?:That Browns contest was the Colts lone look at what the Pro Bowl safeties brings to the backend of the defense.

Having Bethea and Landry form a presence down the middle of the field should allow for aggressive corners Vontae Davis and Greg Toler to flourish.

The safety duo brings 15 years of NFL experience and the addition of Landry gives Bethea a true game changer next to him for the first time since the 2008 season.

What should fans expect from the Colts return units in 2013?There isn't a need to worry about the kicking/punting duo of Adam Vinatieri and Pat McAfee.

Who returns kicks though this Sunday?

Rookie Kerwynn Williams returned 10 of the team's 15 kicks during the preseason but he is now on the team's practice squad.

Chuck Pagano said earlier this week that Cassius Vaughn and Joe Lefeged could be options if David Reed (who was the NFL's leading kick returner in 2010) cannot play due to a concussion.

Here's a look at yesterday's offensive burning questions.

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