Roster cuts are coming shortly, and a lot will be made of who makes the roster and who gets cut. One player who is sure to make the roster but is still garnering a lot of attention, however, is outside linebacker Robert Mathis.
The Colts' all-time sack leader, Mathis is coming off of a torn Achilles that sidelined him for the entire 2014 season. He opened training camp on the PUP list, but he was taken off of that list in the past few weeks and his return is getting near. The question of exactly when that return will be, however, is still unknown.
Owner Jim Irsay said on Thursday night that Mathis is "really progressing well," and Irsay expects him to play in September and play in Lucas Oil Stadium in September, which would mean a week two return. But could that return be even earlier? Such as in week one against the Bills?
"There's a possibility," head coach Chuck Pagano said on Friday. "He's been practicing, as you guys know, and we're getting him more reps with every day. He's going through individual drill and then we're increasing his snaps that he takes during the course of practice with each day. It started out at five snaps and we're increasing that number. We'll increase that number again this week and we'll just evaluate how the week goes. Rob is doing great. He's making great progress, but again I know if we left it up to Rob he'd be out there in two seconds. But I'm going to make the call on that and I'm going to protect Rob from Rob and do what's best for this team and do what's best for him. But he's doing great and he's coming along great. If he's able to go then we'll make that decision when the time comes."
Whenever Mathis does return, it will be a big boost to the team's defense to be sure. Mathis is a 34-year old pass rusher coming off of a torn Achilles, so we shouldn't expect him to be the Robert Mathis of old, but he could still be a productive player and really help the Colts. Adding Mathis to a group that includes Trent Cole and Jonathan Newsome could make for a good pass rush for the team - something that will certainly be welcome after the struggles a year ago.
We can expect that whenever Mathis returns he will be brought back slowly. If he plays in week one it would likely be on a very limited snap counts, but that is to be expected, especially since the Colts want him there late in the season when the games matter the most.