INDIANAPOLIS --- How do you replace the production of Robert Mathis? The short answer is you can't with any one individual player. He's a special talent as a pass rusher, having led the NFL last season with 19 ½ sacks. The long answer must take into account this is a team that is no stranger to overcoming adversity.
The Colts find themselves needing to find a way to make up for the void Mathis leaves as a fantastic harasser of quarterbacks as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme.
Inside linebacker D'Qwell Jackson disagreed Monday when asked if Indianapolis will need to be more creative in its pass rush and perhaps gamble more with blitzing.
"No, I don't think so. I don't think so at all," said Jackson. "We have more than capable guys that can get it done, or else they wouldn't be in this locker room. They've overcome a lot to get to this point. We trust the guy next to us, and that's one of our mantras in this building. Do your job and trust the guy next to you."
"We'll get pressure whatever way we can get it," said fellow inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman. "We've got good pass rushers, guys that are going to work, great technique and everything."
Even though Jackson says the defense does not need to change its approach, many Colts defensive players agreed when you lose a player of the caliber of Robert Mathis, the defense as a whole must combine to make up for that lost production. It can't just be one player.
"It's always collectively as a group," said defensive end Cory Redding. "but at that position, we know it's got to come with special players. Robert's one of them. When he's not in, we need people to step up and make plays...I have all the confidence in the world that my teammates will answer the bell."
"It's something that's going to be tough," said defensive back Darius Butler. "We kind of have to come together as a unit and by committee replace his production."
So, for the Colts defense it's both "next man up" and "next men up".