Colts D looks to regroup vs. Browns

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Much of the chatter following the Colts season-opening debacle at Houston has focused on the offense's struggles without injured quarterback Peyton Manning.

The defense sure didn't help.

The Colts needed to get stops while quarterback Kerry Collins got familiar with the offense. Instead, they got hammered for 384 yards, including 167 on the ground, in a 34-7 loss.

The defense isn't ready to panic heading into Sunday's home opener against Cleveland.

''It's a 16-round fight and we're getting ready for round two,'' cornerback Jerraud Powers said. ''We take it one game at a time.''

The Colts faced a similar situation last year -- with Manning -- after last year's opener. Houston ran wild in a 34-24 win that signaled running back Arian Foster's arrival as a star. The Colts came back to beat the New York Giants 38-14 the following week, starting a stretch in which Indy won five of six games.

''We are a veteran team,'' defensive end Robert Mathis said. ''We know what to expect, and we know how to bounce back from this.''

If the Colts are to recover, they'll have to deal with Peyton Hillis, the Browns' 250-pound bruiser who ran for 1,177 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. Powers remembers playing against Hillis while Powers played college ball for Auburn and Hillis played for Arkansas.

''I've seen Peyton hurt a couple guys, personally,'' Powers said. ''We're going to have our hands full. It's going to really take everybody getting to the ball to take him down.''

The Colts will face the Browns without veteran linebacker Gary Brackett, who injured his shoulder after an interception against the Texans. Brackett expects the defense to recover in his absence.

''You're only as good as your last game,'' he said. ''Last week, people are up in arms about what happened, and this week is a new challenge. We can go out there and redeem ourselves, and be sitting pretty again.''

The first half against Houston was one of the worst in Colts history. Houston gained 259 yards and led 34-0 at the break. Foster didn't even play, and the Texans still had 100 yards rushing at halftime.

The Colts shut the Texans out in the second half and limited them to 125 yards. Brackett said the team talked about turning up its intensity at halftime, and the results were good.

This week, the focus has been on taking care of the basics.

''We just have to continue to get better,'' Brackett said. ''As far as this week in practice, obviously, going over the game plan and making sure the things that are in there everyone's comfortable with. Then, just go out there and execute.''

Colts coach Jim Caldwell said the Colts have faced adversity before and come out fine.

''Last year, ultimately for us, it was an unusual situation where we had to win all four games at the end of the year (to make the playoffs),'' he said. ''Think about that. We couldn't lose one. That's a very, very difficult situation, but these guys were able to come through it. So we do have the wherewithal to do it. Do I consider it a test? I believe it's part of our everyday job. We get challenged on every front, of every minute, of everyday, and that's what makes it fun.''

Powers expects a spirited effort against the Browns.

''If we come out flat, I'll be very surprised,'' he said. ''I'm expecting us to go out, have fun, fly around, do what we do best.''


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Tagged: Browns, Colts, Texans, Peyton Manning, Gary Brackett, Peyton Hillis, Jerraud Powers

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