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_ Indy’s best seasons have typically come when the speedy defense has played at its best.

_ Even the Texans have seen the Colts’ defense win games. In 2008, the Colts forced three turnovers in the final five minutes, producing an incredible 21-point rally to give Indy a 31-27 victory.

While Manning got the accolades then, those around him always knew the four-time MVP wasn’t doing it by himself. Neither can Collins, the new next man up.

Peyton’s so unique in the things he does, and I don’t think anybody expects me to go out there and run the offense like Peyton Manning,” said Collins, who has had 16 days to learn the system. “That’s a whole other ballgame that we’re talking about. But I know that I’m very comfortable with what we’re doing.”

Clearly, things will be different Sunday.

Offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen acknowledged the Colts are likely to huddle up more often and make fewer calls at the line of scrimmage _ a trademark of the Manning era. They also may run more often with two former first-round draft picks, Joseph Addai and Donald Brown, in the backfield.

Collins will find himself surrounded by arguably the deepest group of receivers he’s ever played with. Besides Wayne, he can throw to 2009 playoff star Pierre Garcon, Pro Bowl tight end Dallas Clark and last year’s breakout tight end, Jacob Tamme. Receivers Austin Collie and Anthony Gonzalez are listed as questionable, but did practice all week.

It’s not just the offense that fans worry about.

“I guess that would imply that when the offense is at full speed, we say, `Oh well, the offense, they have it,’” Freeney said when asked Wednesday if the defense has to do more with Manning out. “That’s not our mentality. We go out, no matter who’s out there and no matter what they’re doing on the offensive side, it’s the same mentality on the defense. We are going to try to stop them every down, try to get them off the field, try to get our offense the ball back, and that’s pretty much what it is.”

The Colts have a roster stocked with talent.

Even without Manning, eight of the 22 other starters, including Collins, have played in a Pro Bowl. They’ve added three former first-round picks to the defense: linemen Jamaal Anderson and Tyler Brayton and linebacker Ernie Sims. Collins gives them a quarterback on the verge of passing Joe Montana on the career yardage list.

Dungy, the Colts’ Super Bowl-winning coach and now an NBC analyst, told viewers Thursday night he believed Colts players do have something to prove — a sentiment that came through loud and clear throughout the locker room Friday.

Opponents are heeding the warning.

“I think they’re a different team without him (Manning), of course. I think all in all they’re still an NFL team,” Tennessee linebacker Will Witherspoon said. “They’re still a team that can surprise you and do things every Sunday.”

And the Colts are out to prove they can keep winning _ with or without Manning.

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