As expected, the Indianapolis Colts aren't tipping their hand on if outside linebacker Robert Mathis will play in Sunday's season opener at the Buffalo Bills.
Head coach Chuck Pagano said Friday that the six-time Pro Bowl pass rusher will be a game-day decision. The player is listed as questionable on the injury report, which means a 50 percent chance of playing.
Mathis wouldn't divulge the Colts' plan Wednesday, but spoke with a smile on his face. It's possible the Colts will use their 34-year-old franchise sack leader as a situational pass rusher. Even if he doesn't play, Mathis likely makes the trip to Buffalo so the Bills aren't wise to the Colts' plans until inactives are announced 90 minutes before kickoff.
Mathis is coming off a left Achilles tendon tear, the first serious injury of his 13-year career. Colts owner Jim Irsay previously said fans can expect to see Mathis play at home in September -- the only home game this month is Sept. 21 against the New York Jets on Monday Night Football.
In other injury news, starting cornerback Greg Toler (neck) and backup running back Vick Ballard (hamstring) have been ruled out. That means cornerback Darius Butler gets the start and rookie running backs Josh Robinson and Tyler Varga will back up Frank Gore.
Because rookie cornerback D'Joun Smith is questionable due to a knee injury, the Colts are thin in the secondary if the third-round pick can't make his NFL debut. Pagano said Jalil Brown and Sheldon Price are capable of filling in as nickel cornerbacks. Price is listed as possible due to a concussion and was a full practice participant the last two days.
Backup inside linebacker Nate Irving is listed as probable with a knee injury. He's recovering from knee surgery that ended his 2014 season in Denver after eight games.
Backup outside linebacker Bjoern Werner is probable with a knee injury. He didn't practice until Friday, but was a full participant.
Sunday kickoff is at 1 p.m.
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