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Chuck Pagano On Robert Mathis: "He Sure Looks Like The Old Rob"

Intro: In recording a team-leading seven sacks in 2015, Robert Mathis is defying the normally stacked against odds of Achilles’ recovery.


INDIANAPOLIS – Training Camp practices had Greg Manusky's full attention, but the Colts defensive coordinator couldn't help but sneak a peak past the Colts practice fields back in August.

The fans watching in Anderson couldn't see over the hill where Manusky's eyes kept on going.

Down there, Robert Mathis was dripping in sweat.

The perspiration was a result of Mathis working through tackling dummy after tackling dummy.

It was then when Manusky began to think that Mathis, who had overcome 10 Achilles surgeries in the previous 11 months, could (again) be quite the quarterback annoyance in 2015.

"I was like, 'Damn, he looks pretty good,'" Manusky says thinking back to those practice days in Anderson where his eyes would wander towards Mathis.

Manusky's marvel at Mathis wouldn't stop in Anderson.

A former NFL-er himself, Manusky has seen teammates and even players he coached not fully return from an Achilles injury until two years post-operation.

Mathis, at the age of 34, has Manusky in a state of disbelief at how quickly he's returned to a form good enough to be the team's top pass rusher.

Even though Mathis did not become a full-time starter until Week Seven of the season (Mathis missed the regular season opener due to Achilles rehab), he still leads the Colts with 7.0 sacks.

By comparison, Mathis' seven sacks have come in 505 defensive snaps. NFL-leader Khalil Mack has piled up his 15 sacks in 934 plays.

"He sure looks like the old Rob," Chuck Pagano says of Mathis after No. 98 was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week on Wednesday.

"He's still got burst, explosion, speed and playmaking ability."

If there were any lingering questions on where Mathis was at percentage wise, people can pop in the film of Miami's final drive from Sunday's first half.

On a third-and-five from midfield, Mathis lined up across from Dolphins right tackle Jason Fox. With running back Lamar Miller possibly looking to chip Mathis, No. 98 went into his bag of tricks.

An initial burst upfield got Fox off balance anticipating the pure speed rush. That was all Mathis needed to spin back inside and have a free shot at Ryan Tannehill.

The play was vintage Mathis.

An HD picture was about the only way you could tell the play wasn't from Mathis' early years in the NFL.

"As the season progressed I feel like I've got stronger," Mathis says of his 13th NFL season.

"I knew it was going to take over the course of a few months to feel like myself and I really feel the closest to 100 percent as you can be."

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