Indianapolis Colts outside linebacker Robert Mathis insists Sunday’s visit to his hometown of Atlanta is strictly a business trip.
But he admitted it will be an expensive one. The Colts’ all-time sack leader bought 60 tickets for family and friends to see his team play the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome.
“But in the end,” Mathis said Friday, “it’s a business trip.”
He didn’t see the Falcons as a fan. His first time inside the Georgia Dome was when he played against the Falcons on Thanksgiving Day in 2007. The Colts won 31-13.
Mathis, 34, recalls enjoying that visit more. He was permitted to spend the rest of the weekend with family and friends.
The six-time Pro Bowl selection in 13 seasons returns with 115 career sacks, including a team-high four this season. The Colts (4-5) are coming off their biggest win of the season over Denver. The Falcons (6-3) have lost three of four. Both had byes last week.
No. 98’s mission is to get after three-time Pro Bowl quarterback Matt Ryan, who has been sacked 17 times but ranks fifth in passing yards with 2,702.
“Their o-line, they work good as a unit,” Mathis said. “Our jobs are always cut out for us and (we) have to be on our A-game. Matty (Ryan) Ice, he’s one of the top quarterbacks in this league. We can’t let him beat us, got to put pressure on him.”
The Colts will be without rookie defensive tackle Henry Anderson, who suffered a season-ending knee injury, as well as Pro Bowl safety Mike Adams, who injured an ankle on an interception against the Broncos.
Special-teams captain Colt Anderson and rookie Clayton Geathers are expected to split time at Adams’ spot. Fourth-year pro Billy Winn likely gets most of Anderson’s snaps with second-year pro Zach Kerr and rookie T.Y. McGill also in a rotation.
“It’s the next man up, and it really is that,” Mathis said. “Everybody is here for a reason and expected to do a job.”
Mathis liked the timing of the bye week.
“I always want the bye week in-between like Weeks 7-9, 10 and what not,” he said. “I think it kind of fell in the perfect spot for us. Able to recharge, get away for a little bit and get ready for the home stretch.”
Phillip B. Wilson also can be found on Facebook and Google+.