Robert Mathis return might be in November

Colts owner Jim Irsay suggests it might take longer for all-time sack leader to make it back from torn Achilles tendon.

The long-awaited return of Indianapolis Colts all-time sack leader Robert Mathis might take longer than previously anticipated.

Colts owner Jim Irsay suggests Mathis, who is recovering from a torn Achilles, might not make his 2015 season debut until November.

“We look for Robert Mathis at some point to re-emerge,” Irsay said Monday in a break from the NFL Annual Meeting in Phoenix. “It may not be until November. We don’t know yet in terms of his progress.”

Irsay’s comments were shared on the team's Web site, Colts.com, as well as through various media outlets.

The six-time Pro Bowl star who racked up 111 sacks in 11 seasons didn’t play a game last year. While serving a four-game suspension for violating the league policy on performance-enhancing drugs, Mathis suffered the the Achilles injury during a workout in Atlanta. That placed the 2013 NFL sack champion on injured reserve.

Mathis turned 34 last month and, based on Irsay’s comment, likely needs more time to get back on the field due to the injury severity.

The Colts recent added free-agent pass rusher Trent Cole (85.5 career) sacks to presumably give the team a formidable outside-linebacker tandem in their 3-4 defense. Not having Mathis until later would be an obvious setback, although an argument could be made that the team can get by until he is healthy.

Jonathan Newsome led the team with 6.5 sacks as a rookie last season. Erik Walden had a career-high six. The Colts’ 41 sacks without Mathis tied for ninth with three other teams.

But so much of the Colts’ pocket pressure was a result of scheme and timely blitzes against unsuspecting or outmanned blockers. Mathis, who had a career-high and franchise-record 19.5 sacks in 2013, gave the team a constant one-on-one threat who often drew double teams. When one dynamic player draws extra attention, that should create opportunities for others.

While Irsay wasn’t definitive in his Mathis expectation, NFL teams typically are overly optimistic about injury timetables. That the owner was suggesting November sounded somewhat discouraging, at the very least.

Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.


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