Who Replaces Jerrell Freeman In 2016?

Intro: The major defensive question to watch for the Colts this offseason will be who emerges to start next to D’Qwell Jackson at inside linebacker.

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INDIANAPOLIS – It will be the starting competition to watch on defense this offseason.

Who will fill the four-year starting void of Jerrell Freeman and start next to D'Qwell Jackson in 2016?

With Freeman now in Chicago, the Colts must make up for the loss of their leading tackler since 2012.

At the NFL's League Meetings last month, Chuck Pagano threw out a handful of names that will be in the competition this offseason.

  • Nate Irving: Recovering from a 2014 mid-season ACL injury still limited Irving last season. Irving started two games for the Colts, but admittedly never felt like his normal self. In 2014, Irving started in Denver (on a top-five defense) for the first half of the season before going on IR due to the torn ACL. Pagano mentioned in Florida how important it will be for Irving to be a full year and a half removed from the ACL when the Colts begin their offseason program.
  • Sio Moore: Just like Irving, Moore's first season in Indy was more behind the scenes. Moore, who the Colts acquired via trade before the start of last season, played in 12 games in 2015, primarily on special teams. In two seasons with the Raiders, the former third-round pick started 22 games and had 7.5 sacks.
  • Josh McNary: He's almost the forgotten man in this competition. McNary has five starts in 33 games played with the Colts over the past three seasons. He's by far the most familiar option the Colts have in this group of five.
  • Amarlo Herrera: Last year's sixth-round pick of the Colts, Herrera bounced around the active roster and practice squad last season. Herrera played in three games as a rookie, as he tries to add to the impressive defensive rookie haul the Colts found in last year's draft.
  • Junior Sylvestre: You always hear names in Training Camp and the preseason who flash. Sylvestre was one of those guys last year after going undrafted out of Toledo. An ankle injury sent Sylvestre to injured reserve in early September, but the Colts are eager to see him again in a full offseason.

With such a variety of options, this position race will have the staff's full attention this spring and in Anderson.

"I don't think that's a position you're shaking in your boots about," Ryan Grigson says of the competition led by guys who have started with other teams.

"I think there's (an open) spot and let's see who earns it. It's also a good (inside linebacker) crop in the draft as well."

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