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With the Colts’ win against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, their defense has gone from the team’s weak spot to a unit looking ahead to a solid season. Their next test is Sunday at Jacksonville.

Colts defense redefined: Once-lackluster group becoming team strength

Once-lackluster group is now becoming a team strength

Colts rookie Bjoern Werner is helping the defense turn into a more physical unit this season.

– Cory Redding finally got a chance Wednesday to start talking about the Colts defense on his terms: Aggressive. Physical. Dominant.

Over the past decade or two, those three words have largely been missing from Indianapolis’ defensive lexicon. After last weekend’s impressive breakout performance at San Francisco, they become trendy descriptions.

Now the Colts (2-1) just have to prove they can keep playing this way, week after week.

“That’s what we always try to do,” Redding said. “It ain’t playing bad one week and good the next, or good one week and bad the next. You want to play good football every week.”

Their next test comes Sunday at Jacksonville (0-3), against one of the league’s poorest offenses.

The Jaguars rank last in the league in total yards (230.3), touchdown passes (one) and yards per carry (2.3).

Armed with lots of salary cap room, general manager Ryan Grigson spent the late winter beefing up the defense and maxing out the contracts.

So far, the results have been mixed. After three weeks, Indy is ranked 26th against the run and is allowing 4.7 yards per carry.

If this past Sunday’s game against the defending NFC champs was any indication, things could be changing.

Often dubbed as having a defense built to play with a lead, because of its smallish defenders and speedy pass rushers, the Colts are starting to look more like a defense than might be able to hold up over the long haul.

San Francisco gained just 254 yards Sunday, a number that included a 91-yard TD drive in the first quarter and a 67-yard drive on its final possession of the game.

The Colts’ defenders locked up the 49ers receivers, shut down the running game after one bad drive, put pressure on Colin Kaepernick, forced turnovers, and, yes, were more physical than the 49ers.

The public was surprised. The Colts were not.

“We knew we had talent, we were just trying to figure out how all that talent was going to come together,” defensive tackle Ricky Jean-Francois said. “Once it started coming together, it was like a bowling ball with the offense, the defense, even the coaches. That (last week’s game) is what it’s supposed to be.”

Now the Colts want to prove this is the norm, not the aberration. Pagano spent Wednesday explaining that Sunday’s performance was just the beginning and that the team is far from perfect.

Redding, who played for Pagano in Baltimore and Jacksonville coach Gus Bradley when both were in Seattle, has been around the league long enough to know better, too.

So he’s calling on his teammates to prove they can do it in back-to-back weeks, and then back-to-back-to-back weeks.

“We’re preparing this week just like we did last week and any other week that we’ve been preparing for any team,” Redding said.

“We’ve got to go out there and execute all our plays in practice, fly around, try to make minor mistakes in practice and if you make it, clean it up before Sunday.”

Notes: Four Colts players did not practice Wednesday – safeties Antoine Bethea (toe) and LaRon Landry (ankle), running back Ahmad Bradshaw (neck) and Jean Francois (groin). Linebacker Pat Angerer (knee) and center Samson Satele (elbow), who both sat out against the 49ers, were limited participants. All are day-to-day. ... The Colts assigned receiver Da’Rick Rogers and running back Kerwynn Williams to the practice squad Wednesday and released receiver Danny Coale and Miguel Maysonet.

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