INDIANAPOLIS – On most days, Andrew Luck wouldn't like to hear so much cheering come from the defensive side of the ball.
He will make an exception for this one.
Even Luck couldn't hold back his own excitement for who he was seeing return to practice on Tuesday.
"I didn't realize Rob was officially off PUP, then I heard a sort of cheer coming from the defense during the walk-through," Luck said retelling how he found out about Mathis coming off the PUP list on Tuesday morning.
"I look over, and it's 98 over there. So that's cool. It lifts your spirits."
The grin across Luck's face said it all on Tuesday.
It was a smiling Colts locker room on Tuesday thanks to return of a player revered like no other inside the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.
For some, Tuesday was the first time they saw Mathis on the practice field, albeit in an individual role.
"He's a statue for the Colts," new outside linebacker Trent Cole says of Mathis.
"Not being here, I've always (still) known of Robert, always watched his game, big fan of his game. Just to see him come back out, being a pass rusher, (missing time) eats at you, because a pass rusher gets after it and you don't like to be tied down. We want nothing holding us down."
The Colts took another step towards completely unleashing Mathis on Tuesday morning.
Now, off the PUP list, Mathis is back practicing with his role incrementally increasing over the coming days/weeks.
Mathis' return infused some spirit into Tuesday's practice, the first full session the Colts have had in "regular season" mode this season.
"If you could see the coaches and all of his teammates' reactions and how they were when they saw (Mathis) trot out there---it brought a lot of energy back to our football team," Chuck Pagano said of having Mathis back out there.
With Mathis back to work, the man under center for the Colts is especially glad to be wearing a red jersey at practice.
The sight of No. 98 on Tuesday was one of the rare times a pass rusher brings a smile to the face of a quarterback.
"If he's rushing, that's a good sign for everybody on the Colts," Luck said of Mathis.
"In my little over three years here, he's been the consummate professional, as good a teammate as I think you'll ever find. Watching him play is a thing of beauty, so glad he's back on the field."
Some of my favorite Robert Mathis images over the last few years!