Will Sunday Be Robert Mathis' Final NFL Game?

Intro: The Colts started their final practice week of the season on Wednesday. Darius Butler (concussion) and Donte Moncrief (shoulder) continue to deal with injuries.

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INDIANAPOLIS – Finish.

That's Chuck Pagano's message to his team this week with the AFC playoff race already having found their six teams, and the Colts on the outside looking in.

After the Colts' first practice of the week on Wednesday, here is a notebook look at Chuck Pagano and Andrew Luck meeting the media.

INJURY NOTES

  • CB-Darius Butler (concussion): Butler missed Wednesday's practice as he's still in the concussion protocol.
  • WR-Donte Moncrief (hamstring): Moncrief did not practice on Wednesday due to the shoulder injury that took him out of Saturday's loss to the Raiders.

Chuck Pagano on Robert Mathis possibly playing his last game on Sunday:

"I'm forever grateful for Robert taking a leap of faith back in 2012 when we came in here talking about the position change and what he had been doing for a long, long time in a 4-3 defense. He could have went another direction. But because of the man he is and the love he has for this organization and for this city and his team, he decided to ride that thing out.

"We wouldn't be sitting here where we are today, having the success we've had the last five years, without that guy."


Bowen's Analysis: Chuck Pagano took 2 minutes and 30 seconds out of his Wednesday's press conference to answer one question on Robert Mathis. It might have been the longest answer to a question all season for the head coach. That should let one know what Pagano thinks of the Colts' all-time sack leader.

Sunday could be the final game for Mathis. The 35-year-old is a free agent in 2017. Mathis has mentioned "father time" on his weekly radio show, so it remains to be seen what the 2017 plans are for Mathis (Mathis will meet the media on Friday). Pagano wishes all players had the drive of a Robert Mathis, who "earned" his way into the NFL and became one of the greatest pass rushers of all-time.Chuck Pagano on the milestones for this week involving Frank Gore and T.Y. Hilton:

"If we play good team football, like we are capable of playing, the rest of that takes care of itself. The focus is on winning the game.

"You've got a bunch of guys that would lay everything on the line to win the game and make sure (those records) happen."


Bowen's Analysis: It's the race to 1,000 yards for Frank Gore. It's T.Y. Hilton trying to hold onto his NFL lead in receiving yards. Obviously the Colts want to win the game first on Sunday, but these milestones can be achieved within the course of a normal game: Gore needs 37 yards for 1,000 and Hilton has a 30-yard lead on Odell Beckham's 2nd place spot.

On Wednesday, Chuck Pagano brought up in amazement how the NFL's last 1,000-yard rusher at least 33 years old came in 1984. That was Pagano's first season coaching football, as a grad assistant at the University of Southern California. Speaking specifically on the Jaguars, Pagano acknowledged the Jags being 2-0 against the Colts in their last 21 games, while they are 2-17 versus the rest of the NFL. That should offer some revenge this weekend for the Colts.

Andrew Luck on missing the playoffs and the motivation for Week 17:

"It is weird and it doesn't feel good.

"I thought earlier this week, 'What's the motivation to play?' For me, I love football. Another chance to do what you love with your buddies, your teammates, your friends. That's still special."


Bowen's Analysis: Luck said that it hit him on Monday walking into work that he was going to play his first NFL football game with no chance at making the playoffs. Luck is part of several Colts dealing with that abnormal reality this week.

In terms of Luck's season (322-of-505, 63.8%, 3,319 yards, 29 TDs, 12 INTs, 96.8 rating), the completion percentage and passer rating are career-highs. Luck's interception rate is the second best of his career. Despite missing more than 20 practices this year for various ailments, Luck has had a much more efficient season.**

INJURY REPORT**

Here is Wednesday's injury report:

-DNP: S-Mike Adams (rest), CB-Darius Butler (concussion) CB-Vontae Davis (rest), RB-Frank Gore (rest), OLB-Robert Mathis (rest), CB-Rashaan Melvin (knee), WR-Donte Moncrief (shoulder)

-LIMITED: OLB-Chris Carter (shoulder)

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