Colts Camp Battles: Outside Linebacker

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Kirby Lee, USA TODAY Sports

The Indianapolis Colts report to Anderson, Ind. for training camp this Saturday, with the first practice of the season on Sunday. They have a loaded roster that is sure to generate number of interesting battles for the starting spots.

Today, we look at outside linebacker. This is a position that the Colts sought to improve upon in free agency and they appear to have a few intriguing options.

The biggest question mark for the Colts is going to be the healthy of Robert Mathis. If he is cleared by the start of the season, the team’s plan will likely change. It is also entirely possible that at this point in his career Mathis is best suited to being a third down, pass rushing linebacker (which happens to play into his skill set).

Mathis missed all of 2013 with a torn achilles, which isn’t an easy injury to return from for any player to return from, let alone one who is 34 years old. Much of Mathis’ abilities stem from his explosiveness off the line which is generally what players lose after suffering this type of injury.

If Mathis is 100 percent healthy (a big “if”), I’d fully expect him to be a nearly full time starter, possibly being rotated out on obvious run downs but definitely on the field in obvious passing situations. This is by far the best case scenario, but as of right now seems unlikely (although it could playout later in the season as Mathis continues to recover). I fully expect the team to be cautious with Mathis and let him ease back into the defense.

But even if Mathis isn’t a full time linebacker, the Colts have a surprising amount of depth at this position.

Grades provided by Pro Football Focus.

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