December 11, 2015

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) It's become a difficult choice for Indianapolis - either pressure the quarterback or play more pass coverage defense.

Either way, the Colts are struggling.

''It's that in a nutshell,'' linebacker D'Qwell Jackson said. ''It's a tough balancing act.''

The Colts, who have the third-worst pass defense and third-worst overall defense in the NFL, have just 19 sacks this season. They had none in last Sunday's 45-10 loss to Pittsburgh as quarterback Ben Roethlisberger picked them apart.

''That's not good enough,'' defensive coordinator Greg Manusky said. ''I think across the board you want 40-45 sacks.''

Indy had 34 sacks at this point last season and finished with 41 total sacks. Of course, a year ago after 12 games the Colts were 8-4 and often led games by a comfortable margin.

''Last year we had big leads on a lot of people so we were able to generate a lot of sacks,'' Jackson said. ''This year we've played a lot of tough football games. But we understand how important it is to relieve our secondary.''

The Colts (6-6), who haven't won a game by more than a touchdown all season, will try to find a way to pressure a budding young quarterback on Sunday at Jacksonville (4-8). Blake Bortles, a 2014 draft choice, has thrown for at least one touchdown in each of the last 12 games and has 27 passing TDs overall.

Colts coach Chuck Pagano knows things must change.

''You have to be able to pressure quarterbacks,'' he said. ''Especially future first ballot hall of famers like Big Ben. Because if you don't get him off the spot and you don't harass him some and can't put some pressure on him and he's got time to sit back there and he gets hot.''

In a 25-12 win over Tampa Bay two weeks ago, the Colts sacked quarterback Jameis Winston five times for a loss of 33 yards.

''You take the good with the bad,'' Jackson said. ''Obviously we want to get back to that. It's great for a defender to be able to blitz and do all of those good things. But we have to find a way to take some pressure off the secondary and that's everyone across the board because with this defense, everyone has a chance to blitz.''

It can be difficult, though, for Indy's injury-plagued defense to find enough consistency to get into a rhythm.

Jackson was limited in practice on Thursday with an injured quad muscle. Linebackers Jerrell Freeman (hamstring/ribs) and Erik Walden (foot), and safety Colt Anderson (ankle) missed practice for the second straight day. Cornerback Greg Toler, who was out earlier this year with a neck injury, was out Thursday with a knee injury.

''There's always a handful of injuries that are key injuries,'' Jackson said. ''You just hope that you don't have a ton of them at the same time. We've been battle tested and somehow, someway we're still in the middle of everything.''

Notes: Starting left tackle Anthony Castonzo (right knee), center Khaled Holmes (lower leg), receiver Griff Whalen (hamstring) and quarterback Andrew Luck (abdomen/kidney) missed practice Thursday.

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