Colts defensive line faces challenge against Bills
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) The Indianapolis Colts are trying to fill holes on their defensive line.
Indianapolis placed defensive tackle Art Jones on season-ending injured reserve because of an ankle injury, and waived tackles Josh Chapman and Montori Hughes when it was time to make cuts in order to reach the 53-man roster limit.
The moves were focused toward revamping a defensive line in an attempt to improve on last season's rush defense. Indianapolis finished with the 18th-ranked rushing defense last season, allowing 4.3 yards per carry.
Seventh-year veteran Kendall Langford will be the team's most experienced player on the defensive line at defensive end.
Joining Langford will be second-year veteran Zach Kerr and rookies David Parry and Henry Anderson. Robert Mathis is working his way back from an Achilles injury that kept him out for the 2014 season. Mathis has been cleared to practice, but has not yet been cleared to play.
He was in a good mood after Monday's practice and hopeful for the chance to play on Sunday.
On Monday, Colts coach Chuck Pagano embraced the new-look defensive line and spoke highly of the potential the group has with the mixture of experienced veterans and young players.
''I love the mixture of veteran guys like Langford to go with the youth in David Parry and Henry Anderson and Zach Kerr,'' Pagano said. ''We got guys that can play, guys that can fit our scheme. These guys are going to go and they're going to play tough and play smart.''
For the opener, they'll travel to Buffalo to face a Bills offense that is also trying to change its identity. Last season, the Bills had the 25th-ranked rushing offense in the NFL.
This offseason they acquired Pro Bowl running back LeSean McCoy in a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles. McCoy rushed for 1,319 yards with Philadelphia last season. It was the fourth time he has rushed for 1,000 or more yards in his seven-year career.
McCoy has been questionable for the season opener because of a hamstring injury, but the Colts are preparing for the Bills in anticipation that he will be carrying the ball for Buffalo on Sunday.
''McCoy is a very dynamic player, he can make you miss and take a 3-yard loss and turn it into a 15-yard gain,'' Kerr said. ''McCoy has that break away, big-play-ability. They have a pretty good scheme over there; they like to run the ball. So, we've got to really get our cleats in the ground, hunker down and get ready to stop the run.''
The Colts have a total of six linemen that will likely see time up front trying to clog holes and stuff the run. Three of them, Anderson, Parry and T.Y. McGill, are rookies.
On Monday, Pagano was asked if the inexperience up front on the defensive line will be a gamble for a Colts team trying to improve the rushing defense.
''Getting in my car and driving to work every day is a gamble. I don't think our D-line is a gamble,'' Pagano said. ''We got a glimpse in the preseason what these guys can do. We've got guys that have versatility. We've got a bunch of guys with position flexibility. I feel great about that group.''
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