ANDERSON – Without Robert Mathis for the month of September, the most frequent questions have gone to the fellow outside linebackers on how to make up for 19.5 sacks.
Ricky Jean Francois is listed as a defensive tackle and his pedigree doesn't scream edge rusher. But that doesn't mean Francois isn't trying to pick up the slack in Mathis' absence.
"My biggest thing this offseason was to work on getting pressure up the field," Francois told 1070 The Fan on Monday.
"This year I have to make big plays. I've got to be a big player this year. I've got to be that guy that puts pressure up the middle of the field, that makes the sacks, makes the stops."
In a rather blunt interview with JMV, Francois was honest in his personal assessment of the 2013 season.
The Colts signed Francois after four seasons in San Francisco, with the thinking that he would play a massive role in the newly implemented 3-4 scheme.
Francois had his moments in 2013, but missed six games due to injury.
"A lot of people are looking at me to step up," Francois says of the 2014 season. "I was a big free agent last year and I didn't get what everybody wanted to see.
"I didn't play up to my potential, up to what everybody was expecting. I agree with them."
When Francois evaluated his 2013 season, he knew what the main focus was going to be in the offseason.
His playing weight of around 297 pounds was not sufficient enough. Francois got back to the 317 number, a weight he thrived under during his time in San Francisco.
He picked the brains of guys like Reggie Wayne, Cory Redding and Matt Hasselbeck to see how they have achieved such longevity in the NFL.
Consistency was the common theme from those vets and Francois has channeled that into being more of a disruptive presence in 2014.
When opposing offensive coordinators single out pass rushers for the Colts, Francois wants his name to be mentioned.
"Looking at some teams, and I'm just being realistic, a lot of teams might not respect us because we don't have Robert. They feel that we don't have a threat up front who's going to make all the sacks," Francois says.
"The rush plan didn't change (from 2013), it's the guys that changed. The guys changed their mentality. Guys know the sack differential (19.5 for Mathis and 5.5 for Jerrell Freeman) and that's horrible. It shouldn't be that far. Somebody should have 19.5 and another guy should have at least 10 or another guy should have nine."
With his weight rising around 20 pounds, Francois feels more durable and thinks an interior tandem of Art Jones and/or Cory Redding, along with himself, could be a potent pass rush.
And in this case, Francois is happy to talk about his weight gain.
"That's a compliment."