A week ago, a follower on twitter alerted me to the rumors that Colts outside linebacker Robert Mathis may have re-injured his Achilles. According to ESPN's Mike Wells in his weekend mailbag, Mathis didn't re-tear his Achilles but "did suffer a slight setback." Wrote Wells:
I was told Robert Mathis didn't re-tear his Achilles (there were some rumors about that), but he did suffer a slight setback. The road to recovery for him is a long one because he's no longer in his mid-20's. Mathis will be 34 years old on Feb. 26. Some have mentioned how Baltimore's Terrell Suggs was able to recover quickly from his torn Achilles. Suggs tore his in April 2012 and was back on the field by Oct. 21 of that same year. ESPN.com Ravens reporter Jamison Hensley said Suggs wasn't back to his explosive ways until the following season. Suggs was also only 29 years old when he suffered the injury. It's unknown what type of player Mathis will be once he returns to the field for the Colts.
At this point, we don't exactly know when Mathis will return to the Colts, though general manager Ryan Grigson did leave the door open for him potentially not being ready for the start of camp during his end of season press conference. "No, he's still in recovery," Grigson said when asked if he was confident in saying that the outside linebacker would be back in time to start camp. "He's a freak and you hope that he has an athletic genetic freak type of recovery so that he's ready day one of training camp. But that information is not clear yet or a timeline is not there because it's a tough injury. Hopefully in a couple months from now, we'll be able to have some information on that."
The reality of the situation is that Mathis is a soon-to-be 34 year old outside linebacker coming off of a torn Achilles and a year away from the playing field. By the time next season starts, it will have been close to 500 days since Mathis has played in a regular season or postseason contest. For as great of a player as he has been for so long, there are legitimate questions about how effective he will be upon his return. A torn Achilles is a rough injury to come back from, and for a 34-year old it's fair to wonder about his effectiveness. What we do know is that, whenever Mathis does get back on the field, he will take over his starting spot and will again be a big part of the Colts' defense. What we don't know is when he will return or how effective he will be upon doing so.
This setback doesn't sound like something to really freak out about, but it should serve as just another reminder that there are a lot of questions surrounding Robert Mathis next season, and that's part of the reason why the pass rush is a priority this offseason.