Earlier this afternoon, we learned that Colts star outside linebacker Robert Mathis tore his Achilles last week while working out in Atlanta and is out for the season. Obviously, the injury will be an incredibly hard one for the Colts to overcome, even though he is suspended for the first four weeks of the season anyway.
Colts head coach Chuck Pagano met with the media today and of course he talked about the Mathis injury. "We knew we'd be without Robert the first four games, but really a devastating blow," Pagano said. "This one stings, but like always, nobody better equipped to handle circumstances and adversity than this group."
"Everybody will rally around Robert and support Robert," Pagano added. "Whatever happens we are going to support him and get him through it."
"Adversity doesn't build character, it reveals it," Pagano said, building on a theme he's mentioned a number of times in the past. "Tough, tough pill to swallow. Right now they're still absorbing it, the enormity and shock of it, but the sun is going to come up. The thing about this league, nobody really cares what you're going through."
Cornerback Darius Butler weighed in as well, saying that, "he is what Reggie Wayne is to this organization on the defense."
"Very tough," tight end Dwayne Allen said. "Very tough. He's a guy that we admire because of his leadership skills. He leads by example."
"You can't replace a guy like that," inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman said. "It's Robert Mathis. It's going to take a collective effort, everybody to do their part and step up."
"You can't replace a guy like that," Freeman added. "It's Robert Mathis. It's going to take a collective effort, everybody to do their part and step up."
Inside linebacker D'Qwell Jackson also talked about the loss of Mathis. "It's unfortunate," Jackson said. "We all have his back. We know he's going through tough times right now. What I can do as a teammate is be a shoulder for him, someone to listen. It's tough for him right now, and we all have his back. Like coach said, next man is up. We all have to pull our own weight. We have to play better as a unit, as a team, special teams, the whole deal. You can't replace a guy like Robert."
Quarterback Andrew Luck, who's arguably the only player on the team better than Mathis, commented, saying, "I do know I love Robert. He doesn't know how much he has meant to me as a rookie, second-year guy, offseason, everything. What he's done for this organization, what he will continue to do for this organization I know is going to be special."
"I know he's a warrior and he wants to be out on the field with us," defensive end Cory Redding said. "First it's the four games, now this. We don't know what life is going to throw at us, but we just have to roll with the punches. I know the kind of man Robert is, and he's going to fight back, rehab and do whatever it is he has to do to get back on this field. He loves this team. He loves this game. That's what I know he's going to do."
The loss of Mathis is a huge one, and his teammates realize it. A common theme among the team and players today was that it will be a team effort to try to replace Mathis, because no one player is going to be able to do it. Every player knows that he'll have to step up now with Robert Mathis out. Chuck Pagano was right - it's a "devastating blow."