The Indianapolis Colts will have to deal without superstar pass rusher Robert Mathis for the first four games of the 2014 NFL season. Mathis was suspended for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Indianapolis will need some major help in the pass rush as well as all-around playmaking, and it appears that the guy that will be asked to do that is second-year player Bjoern Werner.
Werner had a very solid rookie season, but did battle some injury issues along the way. He ended up playing in 13 regular season games, recording 18 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and three defensed passes. Those numbers certainly don’t look all that good, but he has a great amount of talent and potential to make a big step forward this year.
The Colts are very high on Werner, and they believe that he will step in and be a huge part of their defense this year. He has great strength to go along with some explosion, but also has a good arsenal of rush moves. There is no doubt that he will be a step down from Mathis, but there simply aren’t many that would fill the void that is being left.
Unfortunately for the Colts, they don’t have any other options to help replace Mathis. Werner is the one guy that has the necessary skills to play the position and get to the quarter. The only other pieces that the Colts have on their roster that could possibly fill that role are Justin Hickman, Andy Studebaker, and Aaron Morgan. Obviously those three players wouldn’t be able to deliver the type of production that Werner will.
All that being said, the Colts are going to need a big first four games from Werner. If he’s able to get to the quarterback and force pressure, then he’ll be doing just fine. The Colts don’t need him to get a ton of sacks or force fumbles at the rate that Mathis does, but they do need to find ways to put pressure on the quarterback and make him feel uncomfortable. This is going to be a big season for Werner to prove just what type of talent he has.