The Indianapolis Colts are likely to be without Robert Mathis following his four game suspension. Early reports from Pro Football Talk indicated that he tore his Achilles while working out in Atlanta last week.
The news is a huge blow to a defense that was likely to struggle even with him on the field. Mathis led the NFL with 19.5 sacks last season but was suspended for four games for violation of the league’s PED policy.
Multiple sources are confirming the injury and generally anything involving the Achilles is season ending. This is a tough blow for a player who likely wanted to prove that last season was not PED assisted and is looking ahead to what will likely be his final contract.
Mathis was also the unquestioned veteran leader of the defense and his absence will hurt from more than just a Xs and Os perspective.
Mathis is 33 years old and has one more year left in his contract. The injury technically happened away from the Colts training facility and could mean the team puts him on the non-football injury list which would indicate the team is ready to cut him in the near future.
Mathis was an integral part of the team’s defense, and by far the Colts’ best pass rusher. Without his presence last night against the Broncos, Peyton Manning faced a clean pocket and wasn’t sacked until midway through the fourth quarter.
Mathis was a game wrecker in the 2013 matchup against the Broncos, recording two sacks and a forced fumble. He also managed to hit and hurry Manning a number of times throughout that game.
The Colts will have to rely on second-year play Bjoern Werner to provide the intensity and pressure that Mathis brought on every snap. Werner was rendered virtually useless last night and the Colts coaching staff will be hard pressed to find an answer for the loss of such an important player.
While the Broncos have a good offensive line and Manning is the best at avoiding sacks, the Colts clearly had no answers. Expect them to dial up the blitz more often and rely on some of the younger players to find someone who can be consistent when bringing pressure.