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Colts starting defense could be four years younger than 2016's slow, aging unit

INDIANAPOLIS -- The ESPN NFL Insiders group recently did a roundtable on a wide range of topics around the league.

One of the topics was "Which team improved itself the most?"

Cleveland and Tampa Bay both got two votes, and Kevin Seifert picked the Indianapolis Colts. Seifert noted how new general manager Chris Ballard has “set a new tone” with the organization by addressing the defense this offseason.

Ballard stuck to his theme of getting younger on defense, which the Colts underlined by using six of their eight draft picks on defensive players.

The average age of the Colts defensive starters based off my May 15 projection is 25.3 years old. That’s a significant drop from the old, slow defense that finished 30th in the NFL last season. That unit’s average age, which featured five players who were at least 31, was 29.2.

The Colts, though, are already dealing with injuries to some key defensive players. Safety Clayton Geathers (neck), cornerback Quincy Wilson (foot) and defensive lineman Kendall Langford (knee) are out or limited during offseason workouts.

It’s way too early to get any indication of what the unit will look like because the Colts are not in pads and need everyone together. But coach Chuck Pagano likes the direction the group is headed.

“Those guys are, from a communication standpoint, learning the defense, learning the terminology, learning each other and learning how to play together,” he said. “I like where we’re at. It’s early, really early, and we are in shorts. Again, from understanding and knowing the defense, communication ... it’s vital that all those guys are here and working together.”