- Mike Wells, ESPN Staff Writer
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INDIANAPOLIS -- The locker room had started to empty out Saturday night after the Colts beat the Cleveland Browns when defensive end Robert Mathis was asked about how defensive backs Greg Toler, Vontae Davis, LaRon Landry and Antoine Bethea make it easier for the linemen to pursue the quarterback.
“We have a secondary to be reckoned with,” Mathis said. “I think we can have one of the best secondaries in the league. We just have to go out there and leave it on the field.”
From 21st in pass defense to top five or even top three in the league. That would be a substantial leap for the Colts.
Toler is the one who has led the Colts’ aggressive style of play in the secondary so far. He didn’t suddenly start playing this way during the preseason opener against Buffalo on Aug. 11. Toler, who signed with the Colts during the offseason after playing in Arizona last season, was playing like this during the OTA’s and the first day they took the field for training camp late last month.
Toler likes to gamble defensively. That means taking the bad with the good.
The bad for Toler and the Colts happened in the second quarter when the cornerback gambled on a pass thrown to Browns receiver Greg Little. Toler didn’t pick the pass off and Little ended up with a 14-yard gain.
Toler made up for his mistake later in the quarter when he stripped the ball from Little after his reception. Toler also recovered the fumble.
“The coaches give me a little leeway with the way we play the defense,” Toler said. “I just try to get in there and make plays. That was one of the plays I had to learn from and keep my eye on the receiver and make the play.”
The Colts have lacked an aggressive cornerback like Toler for years. They like his style of play. Toler has an interception and a forced fumble in the past two games.
“He’s got that dog in him and I love it,” Mathis said.
Landry joined his three teammates in the secondary for the first time Saturday. He had to get some preseason action if the Colts truly believe they can have one of the best secondary’s in the league.
“Man, with him and Antoine, they take a lot off me, I know that,” Toler said about having Landry . “I know Vontae would say the same thing. They pretty much let you play aggressive sometimes knowing that they going to have your back.”