As Colts outside linebacker Robert Mathis works his way back from a torn Achilles, today was a major step. Today the Colts took him off of the PUP list and placed him on the active roster, meaning that he could return to practice. He was back on the practice field today for the first time since tearing his Achilles last September.
Of course, the Colts will be sure to take things slowly with Mathis. After all, they want him fully healthy when the games really start to matter towards the end of the season, not so much right away in week one. Owner Jim Irsay said early in training camp that Mathis would likely return sometime in late September or early October. According to FOX59's Mike Chappell, head coach Chuck Pagano said that there still is no timetable for Mathis' return to the actual game field but that they will be cautious in bringing him back - noting that they need to protect Robert from Robert because of how anxious he is to get back out there.
Mathis, however, has different plans. He was asked today if returning for week one was a realistic goal. His answer: "Yes." But will it happen? His answer, again, was "yes." Clearly, Mathis is set on playing in week one when the Colts travel to Buffalo to take on the Bills on September 13.
It might not be up to him, however. After all, Pagano noted they need to protect Mathis from himself as they bring him back slowly, and it makes total sense that Mathis would want to play in the first game. But the Colts all along have had a much more conservative estimate for Mathis' return, and I think that suggests that the team is going to be calculated in their approach and not rush him back too fast. Trent Cole and Jonathan Newsome can handle things until Mathis is fully ready to return, and that might be what happens. But if Mathis has any control over it, however, he says he'll be out there in week one.
Ultimately, we'll just have to wait and see. We'll have to wait and see when he actually returns to the field, and we'll also have to see how he does when he gets on the field. After all, a 34-year old coming off of a torn Achilles doesn't exactly inspire a lot of confidence, but then again this is Robert Mathis, the Colts' all-time sack leader. The questions about him are both when he will return and how he will play when he does. On that last point, Chuck Pagano doesn't have many concerns. According to Colts.com's Kevin Bowen, Pagano said that, "If I was a betting man, I would put all my chips in and bet on Rob."