INDIANAPOLIS – Physically,
Mathis’ presence is still there though, thanks to one final message he left his teammates.
Athletes: Don’t take the sport you play for granted. Every time you play, you better be damn thankful that you get to do something you love. Don’t show up to practice complaining about not wanting to be there; you’re there hopefully because you love it. Work hard every moment. If you’re not working hard, you don’t deserve to play. Play every practice or game like it’s your last because it very well could be. When you finally reach the day that you can’t play, and you can only watch, then you will know how much you love something that you once took for granted.
Those words sit just a couple of lockers down from Mathis’ replacement,
For the last year and a half, Werner has been in Mathis’ hip pocket trying to absorb everything the Colts franchise sack leader has to offer.
It’s not a surprise to Werner that Mathis has provided his brothers with words of wisdom.
“That’s Robert for you,” the Colts new starting RUSH linebacker says. “It’s hurting him that he can’t be here and can’t be talking to us. He made sure before he left that he can still communicate with us.”
Over the next four weeks, the absence of Mathis will probably not be missed more than in the opener.
Peyton Manning will drop back upwards of 40-50 times on Sunday and the thought of “Where is No. 98?” will be nowhere to be found in his mind.
That wasn’t the case in Week Seven last season.
Mathis sack/safety speaks for itself, but the Colts were able to disrupt Manning on several occasions in their 39-33 win.
With four sacks in 49 Manning passing attempts (a sack on eight percent of the Broncos passing attempts), the Colts pass rush did something to Denver that not many teams were able to do in 2013 (the Broncos led the league in allowing a sack on just 2.9 percent of pass attempts).
Now they are without the league’s leading sacker and the heavy burden for that pass rush falls onto the shoulders of Werner and
“This is a showcase---Sunday night, in front of the entire world,” Walden says.
“We want to play well and make a statement as a defense.”
Guys like Walden and Werner will be the focal points off the edge but the pass rush has to come from a variety of spots.
Interior pressure has frequently been thrown around as a key in trying to get the elite Manning out of rhythm.
That means the likes of
“Affecting a quarterback doesn’t mean by sacks,” the run-stuffing Chapman says. “It’s about getting pressure on him, making him get off his spot. Basically that means by putting that rush in his lap. Just push that pocket.”
Those in the front seven of the Colts defense know that a collective effort is a must in order to try and makeup for Mathis’ absence.
Werner hasn’t shied away from accepting a bulk of that pass rush role this offseason.
Mathis has full confidence in his young pupil and he made sure Werner had a personal message to hear from No. 98.
“Just trust it,” Werner says of Mathis’ message to the Colts 2013 first-round pick.
“He’s seen what I can do. The last thing that he told me was, ‘Just trust what you can do. You are going to be good. Just enjoy it and don’t try to put that pressure on yourself.”