ANDERSON — The defense that dominated the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday featured a strong safety making just his second NFL start and appearing in just his third regular-season game.
Two defensive starters missed that 37-3 victory as well as the stunning 27-7 upset against the San Francisco 49ers a week early.
The offensive line that manhandled the Niners' front seven was missing two starters, and three players in the middle (both guards and the center) were making their first appearances of the season at their respective positions.
Tight end Dwayne Allen has been out since early in the first quarter of Week 1, and he's just one of eight players already on the season-ending injured reserve list.
Yet, the Indianapolis Colts just finished the first quarter of the season at 3-1 and stand tied with the Tennessee Titans atop the AFC South.
Next man up, indeed.
"Everybody's accountable, and everybody's held to a certain level of expectation," head coach Chuck Pagano said during his afternoon news conference Monday. "You're one play away. We've seen it week in and week out since I've been here, it happens and so guys are going to get called upon. It was like we talked about last week, no worse feeling than walking into an exam that you haven't studied for.
"I asked the guys last week, 'Everybody raise your hand if you ever walked into a test that you didn't study for.' I, myself, I was the first one to raise my hand, and everybody else rose their hand. It's not a good feeling. That's why we ask these guys, every one of them, to prepare as starters. Because, again, you're one play away from having to go in and compete and perform at a level which gives us an opportunity to win."