What to Expect in Week 1: The Defensive Secondary


Dec 16, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Indianapolis Colts free safety Antoine Bethea (41) plays against the Houston Texans during the second quarter at Reliant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

Indianapolis, IN – The Indianapolis Colts have a very new looking secondary coming into the 2013 season, and we’ll see what they can do against the Raiders in Week 1. Both Vontae Davis and Antoine Bethea are returning, but there are two new guys making their regular season debuts for the Colts. LaRon Landry and Greg Toler were free agent pickups this past off-season, and are both going to be starting in their first seasons with the Colts.

Landry is coming off of a very dominant season where he registered 100 tackles, 4 forced fumbles, and 2 interceptions. Normally you don’t see safeties putting up 100 tackles in a season, but he was truly the heart and soul of the New York defensive backfield last year. He’s going to be asked to be a play-maker for the Colts right off the bat this season as well. Many analysts believe that the combo of Bethea and Landry will be the best safety duo in the AFC, if not the entire league.

Greg Toler is a very interesting player coming over from the Arizona Cardinals. He has great talent, but has had multiple injury issues during his NFL career, the latest being concussion problems. Toler had a solid season last year with inconsistent playing time and injury problems causing him to miss five games. His numbers aren’t terribly impressive with just 27 tackles and 2 interceptions, but he’s a play-maker and showed what he’s capable of in the preseason for Indianapolis.

Both Antoine Bethea and Vontae Davis are primed for big years yet again this season. Davis had a bit of an up and down year last season with the Colts due to nagging injury issues, but showed up big in the last two games of the regular season in which he said that he finally felt healthy. Three interceptions in the two games that he said he felt healthy is not too bad at all. Bethea is coming off of another great year, racking up 100 tackles himself. These two guys are really the backbone of the Colts defense. Indianapolis needs them to play consistently each week to reach their defensive potential.

While the Raiders don’t have any big name wide receivers, they do have some very solid receivers. Denarius Moore is the name that comes out most when you think about the Raiders’ receivers. He caught 51 passes for a total of 741 yards and 7 touchdowns last season. He’s a very fast wide receiver, and will have a great match-up with Vontae Davis.

Rod Streater and Greg Toler will be the main match-up to watch in my opinion. This will be Toler’s chance to show that he’s an NFL starting caliber corner against a very talented Streater. Standing at 6’3″, Streater has a 3-inch height advantage on Toler, and certainly has play-making ability. He compiled 584 yards and 3 touchdowns on 39 receptions last year, and will enter the 2013 season as the Raiders’ starting receiver across from Moore.

The other options at wide receiver for the Raiders are not exactly strong. Jacoby Ford has some big-play potential,  but he’s inconsistent at best. After him the Raiders are relying on either Brice Butler or Juron Criner to step up and be their #4 receiver. Butler turned some heads in the preseason, but it’s a lot to ask of a young player to step up immediately like that.

Overall the Colts secondary matches up very well against Oakland. There’s no doubt that the Raiders have some big-play potential, but the other question is will Terrelle Pryor be able to beat the secondary and get the ball to his receivers down the field? We’ll have to watch and see, but I think the Colts will have a very solid game in their secondary come Sunday afternoon.

Evan Massey is an editor at Naptown’s Finest. Give Evan and Naptown’s Finest a follow on Twitter.