INDIANAPOLIS --- The biggest storyline for the Colts defense when Indianapolis holds its first training camp practice Sunday is when franchise sack leader Robert Mathis will take the field for the first time since he ruptured his Achilles last season.
Colts Owner and CEO Jim Irsay told the Indianapolis Star Monday team doctors have not cleared Mathis yet for on-field activities.
"The good news is Robert is trending in the right direction," Irsay told The Star. "We're all very excited and pleased with the progress that he's making. The timetable is unknown. Will it be October 15? Will it be September 15? I really, at this point, no one knows."
Mathis told reporters on the last day of OTAs his goal is to play week 1 at Buffalo. That date is September 13th.
"We just want to make sure that he's ready-ready when it's time to go," Irsay also said Monday. "He can come in, have a couple of years with us at this point in his career, and be the difference-maker he was."
Mathis led the NFL with 19.5 sacks in 2013, before missing all of last season. His 111 sacks are the most in Colts franchise history and 21st on the NFL all-time sacks list. Mathis is entering his age 34 season.
Considering the Colts came just one sack shy last year of matching their team total from 2013, it's possible the team won't want to bring him back prematurely, as he's such a valuable piece to the defense, but it's clear Mathis is eager to get back on the field. General Manager Ryan Grigson indicated as much during OTAs, joking Mathis was lying in the weeds ready to pounce.
This news from Irsay means it's also possible Mathis begins training camp on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. However, players that start camp on that list can be removed from it at any time. The Colts did this with fullback Stanley Havili to start training camp last season.
Players that remain on the PUP list at the start of the regular season must sit out his team's first six games.
Irsay said it's only been good news this offseason in regards to the recovery of Mathis, but it appears the waiting will continue heading into camp.