INDIANAPOLIS – An active roster with 53 players will mean different styles of personalities.
Not every one of the players will be a team leader and those who are go about it in different methods.
Outside of the playing field, Redding continues to be the boisterous presence that he is on it. Mathis can be seen by spectators in Lucas Oil Stadium exhorting defensive mates in pre-game huddles. Mathis, in fact, has been wired by the club on a few occasions previously because of the on-field chatter he provides during play.
Away from the action, however, Mathis is a man of fewer words. Words and moments chosen judiciously by the 10-year linebacker are noticed by those around him.
“You know, more than you think,” said Head Coach Chuck Pagano when asked how much of a vocal leader Mathis is. “It’s more by his play and what he does on the field.
“When he has to (speak), he’s kind of like E.F. Hutton. When he talks, everybody listens. I don’t know if anybody remembers who E.F. Hutton is.”
Any of the quarterbacks who comprise the 86.5 sacks Mathis has forged can validate who he is, as can teammates who are on the end of advice he provides.
“He (Mathis) quietly goes about his business, and it’s probably more by example, said Pagano. “When he has to, he’s the type of guy that can put his arm around a guy and whisper in a guy’s ear and they’re going to pay attention. They’re going to listen, and it’ll speak volumes.”
Redding is much more vocal across the board. He feels his nature matches the his talent ability, and that is why Pagano wanted him in Indianapolis.
“More than just the position of what I do, but it’s who I am and what I bring,” said Redding. “There are a lot of intangibles other than just playing on the field on Sundays. … I’m going to bring you high energy. I’m going to bring you a good motor. I’m going to play and give you everything I’ve got the whole play.
“My intangibles off the field as far as being a leader and motivating guys and telling them what I see, that’s part of it, too. I think that’s a big reason why Chuck and I hooked up.”
Redding is direct in his impact. It is a style that works for him. He sees the same impact from Mathis, just a different style.
“He’s a man who says very little but when he does say something, gear up. He’s going to give you some words that kind of get you fired up. That’s him,” said Redding. “He doesn’t really say much. He just works. He comes to work every day (and) claps hands. You can tell when he’s out on the field making plays.”
Mathis, the anti-Redding? The yin and yang of styles?
“Everybody is different, but Robert is a special guy,” said Redding. “When he opens his mouth to say something, it’s going to be special. Gear up because it’s going to be something you can feed off of. That’s how he rolls.”
“He’s vocal when he needs to be. Sometimes you have guys who you get tired of them talking. Rob is the type of guy when you need a veteran to say something, that’s when he does,” said Bethea. “More for Rob, when you put the film on, that’s the type of leader (he is). You’ll see number 98 running all over the field. You see him do it on the practice field. You see him in the weight room, in the classroom.
“That’s the type of leader I appreciate, the type of guy who not only does it off the field, but on the field.”
There is no one who can dispute the success Mathis has with his verbal approach, just as both Pagano and Bethea will attest to his playing ability when the whistle is blown and he enters the white lines. It is there where Mathis speaks more and achieves results.
“You look at the tape, it’s just mind-boggling how quick Robert Mathis has picked up this scheme, how well he’s adapted to the new position,” said Pagano. “I don’t what he’s weighing right now, but there are some collisions out there. He’s setting the edge on the tight end certainly, but there are times when they’re blocking down and running some gap schemes on us and he has some big offensive linemen, some 310-, 320-pound guards pulling on him. He’s stuffing them and sitting them right down in the hole at 240 pounds. He’s done a tremendous job.”
Says, Bethea, “He’s undersized at his position but if you look at the stats and what he does, you could never tell. That’s why I say stats (obscure) your size. Sometimes the stats are over-rated.
“It’s what occurs and what’s in here (taps his heart) is what really matters most. Sometimes you could have bigger guys, but they don’t give you nothing on the field. Rob gives you everything he has out there.”
As for himself, Mathis feels there is a little of everything in his style, but he prefers substance over sizzle.
“I’m a little bit of both,” said Mathis. “You don’t want to just be a guy who’s ‘rah-rah’ with no substance behind you in your work. I try to lead by example as well as being a vocal leader.”