The Indianapolis Colts’ first and second team units looked great in their second preseason game against the New York Giants, but there was one name missing from the field. That name was Robert Mathis, who will face a four-game suspension to start the regular season due to a violation of the NFL’s drug policy. According to a report from Mike Wells of ESPN, Mathis might not play in the preseason and wouldn’t be eligible to return to the field until the Colts’ October 5th game against the Baltimore Ravens.
Head coach Chuck Pagano clarified exactly why the Colts are considering not playing Mathis in the preseason.
“We understand that we’re going to be without Rob, and we’ve got to make sure that from a preparation standpoint, staying in it mentally throughout the course of practice, those types of things, you get him enough. There’s a fine line because we know we’re not going to have him for four weeks. You’ve got to get the other guys ready to go, get them playing time and get them the snaps that they need. It’s tough.
I’m not going to say we’ve totally ruled out the idea of him playing in the preseason. We’ll just take it day by day. I know we’ve got two opportunities left and we’ll just see where we’re at. If there’s an opportunity and it makes sense for us to get him out there then we will.”
Mathis won’t be bothered by not participating in preseason action, and has gotten plenty of work in at practice. He is the type of player that does’t need practice games to be completely ready to play, and the Colts will be ready to plug him back into the defense when he does get back on the field. The Colts received a huge season from him last season, and he showed that he is still one of the most important defensive players in the NFL.
He played in all 16 regular season games, and ended up compiling 59 tackles, 19.5 sacks, and eight forced fumbles. Those numbers explain how important Mathis is to the Indianapolis defense in and of themselves, and the Colts will be hard pressed to replace him for the first four games. Second-year linebacker Bjoern Werner will be starting in his place until he is able to make his return against the Ravens.
Overall, this will disappoint some fans that were hoping to see Mathis play in the preseason. He is one of the most exciting players to watch in person and on TV, and the Colts’ defense always looks much better with him on the field for obvious reasons. That being said, it is important for the Colts to get used to playing without their star player before they are forced to do that in Week 1.