Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
The move to a 3-4 defense certainly had some growing pains last year for the Colts, but there's a lot to like about the linebackers this season.
On the outside, Robert Mathis will be looking to prove that he's still one of the best pass-rushers in the league. A lot of people felt that he didn't earn his Pro Bowl selection last season, and he will do what it takes to make sure he quickly silences those critics.
Erik Walden has been the most unpopular signing for the Colts this offseason. He was certainly overpaid, receiving a four-year deal worth $16 million, but many think he's a terrible linebacker after watching the game against the San Francisco 49ers.
While Walden may have struggled that game, he is actually a solid linebacker that can hold the edge and cover tight ends and running backs in the passing game. Pass-rushing may be a weakness for him, but he's a solid linebacker.
Bjoern Werner will be looking to get on the field as much as possible in his rookie season. The No. 24 overall selection was known at Florida State for excelling at getting to the quarterback, and the Colts are hoping that he can make the transition to a 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL.
On the inside, Pat Angerer will finally be healthy to start the season, barring any setbacks in the preseason. When healthy, he's a been a solid anchor for the defense. Kavell Conner was able to step in last season and make a number of good plays while Angerer was hurt and is a great backup to have.
Jerrell Freeman took to the team by storm after returning an interception for a touchdown in Week 1 against the Chicago Bears. He was in on what seemed like almost every play last season, recording 145 combined tackles.
Other linebackers include Kelvin Sheppard, a guy that does a good job in coverage on the inside, and Lawrence Sidbury, a big guy on the outside that's been waiting for an opportunity to get more snaps on the field. Caesar Rayford, listed at 6'7'', is also looking to find a spot on the team.
It's tough to not like the linebackers. The outside may have some questions, but this is a strong group of players that will try to make sure that the defense improves this season.