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Mathis Hones Self, Likes Werner

A budding player in 2003, Robert Mathis now is a seasoned veteran who sees younger teammates. Mathis has worked hard to excel, and he is grateful for his career. He also likes a player who has come along a decade after him – Bjoern Werner.


INDIANAPOLIS – Last Saturday in New York, the Colts' defense had a pretty solid outing.

Indianapolis kept the Giants out of the end zone, held on 12-of-15 third-downs, sacked quarterbacks six times and produced a takeaway that led to points.

During camp, players have said they feel more comfortable in the defense, and Robert Mathis expects to see the same sights he saw that night in the big city.   

"Guys (were) humming around, flying around, having fun and doing their assignments," said Mathis.  "That's (a 20-12 win) kind of the result of when that happens."

Mathis is in his 11th preseason and calls the process a "necessary evil."  He knows that evils inflicted in the regular season come from preparation, and he intends to be a full gear for Oakland on September 8.

Mathis has seen a side of the NFL not many players experience.  His first seven teams (2003-09) won at least 12 games.  One (2006) won a world title, while another played in a Super Bowl three years later.

Only once has he experienced a losing season, and last year's team authored a strong response to 2011's 2-14 record by going 11-5 and returning to the playoffs.  

"(I) definitely don't take it for granted," said Mathis.  "(I've) been around for 11 years now, and I can say one year we kind of had a slip up.  (I) feel like we're back in the driver seat and (have) to take advantage of it.

"I feel we're young and also eager, (and) also going in the right direction.  That's a positive for us."

Mathis once was the new kid on a roster stocked with veterans.  He has seen the club re-stock this year with veterans on the line and in the secondary, plus the club spent its top pick on Bjoern Werner, who now backs up Mathis among his roles on the defense.

Werner joked around the draft that he had viewed Mathis as a favorite while growing up in Germany and that he could not wait to use the veteran as an educational tool to start his career.

Mathis enjoyed hearing that back in the spring, and he saw Werner succeed last Sunday in his debut.

"He played a solid game, (his) first action and sky is the limit for that kid," said Mathis.  "It's been kind of a shock.  He played primarily defensive end in college.  

"To come here, just bouncing around, getting a taste of like three different positions, he's picking up fast.  That's a plus for him and also the team."

Many of Werner's 38 snaps came after Mathis exited last week.  How much both play on Saturday is a point of interest for Colts fans hoping for a renewed defensive presence. 

What Mathis will see from Werner will be fruit borne from information imparted.

"He asks questions.  He's also a guy that goes home and studies," said Mathis.  "He does ask questions, very smart questions pertaining to his assignments, questions you really wouldn't think a rookie would ask.  He's just a very smart guy."

Greg Manusky oversees the process and says preseason is the time to fit players into the right mold. 

Manusky has new veteran pieces on the line that hopefully will create opportunities on the outside for Mathis and Werner, though spots on the line could be occupied by one or both in some defensive schemes.

"First time out with the young guys I always congratulate them, say, 'Hey man, have a great game.  You know, it's your first one ever.'  For (Werner), it was the same way," said Manusky.

"Bjoern had a solid performance.

"Going from a three-point to a two-point and the speed of the game picks up a little bit, calls are different but for the most part, he played a solid game.  Do I expect more from him?  Yeah."

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