For the first time in the 11-year career of Indianapolis Colts outside linebacker Robert Mathis‘ career, he’s without fellow teammate Dwight Freeney.
The latter was released after 12 seasons with the Colts this offseason and has moved on to the San Diego Chargers. Both Freeney and Mathis will go down as the two most dominant defensive linemen in Indianapolis history and will be ranked very high on the NFL‘s list of all-time defensive linemen.
“It’s weird. It’s really weird,” said Mathis on playing without Freeney. “It’s just something I have to get used to because for over a decade I’ve been right there, right next to his side. He’s been right there talking, joking and formed more of a brotherhood than just teammates. So it’s kind of weird, but it’s something that you have to get used to.”
Mathis also moved to the opposite side of the linebacking spots as he went from the Mike to Rush spot. He had eight sacks and 22 tackles in 2012 in his former starting spot.
“The Rush backer is more like a defensive end, so that’s more at home for what I do. And so it was a smooth transition.”
With Mathis having more freedom this season to rush the passer, that could spell tough times for the opposition. The Colts are now surrounding themselves with players that can play this scheme, and Mathis is the leader.
“Yeah, I love it,” Mathis said regarding being a leader. “That means you’ve been around for a while so that’s a blessing in itself. You like the way the guys look at you. They kind of put the onus on me, they follow my tenacity or leadership today. I got to run around a little bit more and be a younger guy and reach back five years.”
Eric Smith is the Colts Beat Writer for Rant Sports and is recognized as an accredited member of the media by the Indianapolis Colts. Follow Eric on Twitter @ericsportsguru