The Indianapolis Colts will report to training camp this Saturday and will hold their first practice on Sunday, meaning that their return to the practice field is just six days away. One of the biggest questions as we approach camp is when star pass rusher Robert Mathis will return to the field, something that we currently don't know. Just a few days ago, however, Mathis posted a video to his instagram account showing off his spin move, something that can only be taken as a positive sign in his recovery.
Owner Jim Irsay confirmed all of that to the Indianapolis Star today, but didn't really give any more information than that. Basically, Mathis is progressing but there's still no timetable as to when he will be back on the field.
"The good news is Robert is trending in the right direction," Irsay told the Star. "We're all very excited and pleased with the progress that he's making. The timetable is unknown. Will it be October 15? Will it be September 15? I really, at this point, no one knows."
Of course, this has been the theme of the offseason from the Colts when it comes to Mathis. Irsay had said earlier in the offseason that Mathis' return might not even come until November, though it appeared to be a worst-case scenario rather than the most likely one. But the theme all along has been that the Colts don't have a timetable for when he will be back. That doesn't seem to have changed even though camp starts in just a few days.
Mathis, however, plans to be ready for the Colts' week one game against the Buffalo Bills on September 13, as he said earlier this offseason. Just when that return to the practice field will be, however, is currently unknown, as well as whether Mathis will indeed take the field in week one. There's a lot of uncertainty right now, but the Colts have a lot of hope for the pass rusher whenever he does come back. Head coach Chuck Pagano told ESPN's Ed Werder recently that Mathis "will make a huge impact this season," and while that can be attributed in part to coach speak, it does highlight the high hopes that the Colts have for Mathis whenever he does return.
And ultimately, the Colts want Mathis to be on the field when it matters most - which is late in the season and in the playoffs. They will very likely be willing to take it slowly with him early on in an attempt to make sure that he is fully recovered and ready to produce later in the season - and, according to Irsay, for a few more seasons.
"We just want to make sure that he's ready-ready when it's time to go," Irsay said. "He can come in, have a couple of years with us at this point in his career, and be the difference-maker he was. We're really excited about the prospect. Really, it's only been good news."
It's great that Mathis' recovery is progressing and that it is only good news right now, but Jim Irsay still didn't offer a timeline as to when the pass rusher will be back, so we still don't really have answers to the questions that are being asked. It's nice of Irsay to give an update, but the Colts (and their fans) are still in a wait and see approach when it comes to the star pass rusher.
Considering Irsay's comments that Mathis has not yet been cleared to return to football activities, it is entirely possible that Mathis could start training camp on the PUP list. He could be activated from this list at any time throughout camp, but if he was still on the list at the start of the regular season, he would have to sit out the first six games.