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Defensive Burning Questions heading into the Final Quarter

Intro: With the Colts regular season now at the final quarter pole, 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 that has remained relatively healthy compared to the offense.

The defense put together its best performance in over a month on Sunday and that must continue to make a playoff run.

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

Can the Colts defensive line create more quarterback pressures?

At the age of 32, Robert Mathis (who I'm putting along the defensive line) is leading the NFL with 15.5 sacks and has had numerous game-changing plays in 2013.

Mathis has been the constant pass rushing threat for the Colts with the rest of the defense accounting for just 14.5 sacks.

Erik Walden (2.5 sacks) and Bjoern Werner (0.5 sacks) will continue to have one-on-one matchups opposite the extra attention that No. 98 receives.

The Colts will be without Ricky Jean Francois for a couple of weeks so look for veteran Fili Moala and rookie Montori Hughes to play critical roles up front over the final month of the year.Are the Colts linebackers on the verge of a strong second half?

What Jerrell Freeman has meant to the Colts defense over the last two seasons is quite remarkable.

Freeman once again leads the Colts in tackles (97) and has ramped up his game-changing plays in 2013 with 3.5 sacks to go along with two forced turnovers.

The position next to Freeman seems to be more of a revolving door with Pat Angerer getting most of the reps and Kelvin Sheppard coming up big in the rush defense department.

Josh McNary made his NFL debut last week and Chuck Pagano said he's looking to get the rookie more opportunities moving forward.Will Greg Toler's return strengthen the Colts secondary?

Toler has been absent from the Colts secondary since the bye week. There's a chance Toler could make his return this week which would be ideal considering A.J. Green is the competition.

Darius Butler has performed well from his nickel cornerback position and Cassius Vaughn bounced back with a career-high two interceptions in Sunday's win.

The safety duo of LaRon Landry and Antoine Bethea is coming off one their better performances in 2013.

After six interceptions through the first month of the season, the Colts had just two over the next seven weeks before three picks on Sunday.

The Colts 19 takeaways are the fewest among AFC any team currently above .500.

An added pass rush and a healthy secondary should improve that number heading into the homestretch of the regular season.

Will the Colts break a return before the end of 2013?

The Colts have added the electric Chris Rainey to the special teams unit and the former All-American track star showcased some flashes of that speed on Sunday.

Rainey took over for T.Y. Hilton on punt return and had an 18-yard scamper against the Titans.

Pagano is very pleased with what he saw from Rainey and I wouldn't be surprised if the Colts finally break a return before the year is over.

Special teams gunner Sergio Brown is putting together a Pro Bowl type season at changing field position.

Adam Vinatieri is quite possibly having the best season of his career at the age of 40.

Vinatieri's 26-of-29 on field goals and his 15 made field goals from at least 40 yards in 2013 is a single-season career-high for the 18-year veteran.*

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

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