Whether Indianapolis Colts outside linebacker Robert Mathis plays for the first time in more than a year on Monday night will be decided by doctors.
“Totally lean on those guys,” head coach Chuck Pagano said Saturday of team trainers. “We have to.”
Mathis is coming off a left Achilles tendon tear. He hasn’t played since 2013, when he led the NFL with 19.5 sacks.
Like injured wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, it will be a game-time decision on whether Mathis, the Colts’ all-time sack leader, can play against the New York Jets on Monday Night Football.
“I think we’re all eager, everybody, our fans, everybody in the community, in this building, especially 98 is eager to get on the field.,” Pagano said. “Again, I’m going to defer to our docs and our trainers and listen to those guys and do the best thing for Robert and do the best thing for the team. I don’t know.”
Colts owner Jim Irsay raised optimism about a Mathis return for this game during a television booth appearance Sept. 3. Irsay said fans can expect to see Mathis playing at home in September — the Colts’ only home game this month is Monday.
Mathis had said he expected to be ready for the season opener, but the team decided otherwise. The 34-year-old pass rusher didn’t speak with reporters this week.
Pagano said the decision would be based on if the 13th-year pro is in football shape. His workout regimen has been gradually increased during practice for three weeks.
“He’s been going to practice now and actually put pads on and started leaning on people, setting an edge so to speak and having a 300-pound guy lean on him, rushing the passer, go speed to power and have a big 315-pound, 325-pound tackle anchor on him, push on him and have him go through the physical part when you haven’t played,” the coach said.
“That’s the stuff we need to see and that’s what we have been doing with him. Because you can run around in shorts and do all the athletic stuff, drill stuff, but until you put the pads on and actually do that kind of thing that’s what you’re trying to get as an organization, your comfort level with the guy.”
The Colts (0-1) didn’t have a sack in a 27-14 opening loss at the Buffalo Bills.
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