Colts move OLB Robert Mathis to weakside
For the second time in two years, Mathis is again being moved to a new position. He was a key part of the Colts’ plans when they switched to a 3-4 scheme and signed the linebacker to a four-year $36 million contract last year. The 11th year veteran has been a consistent contributor for the Colts defense since he was selected in the fifth-round of the 2003 NFL draft by the team. In 147 career games (while starting 83 contests) with the Colts, Mathis compiled 428 tackles (with 323 solo), 91,5 sacks, 14 passes defensed, one interception and one forced fumble during his NFL career.
The Colts moved Mathis from defensive end to strong side linebacker in 2012. Subsequently, he led the Colts defense with eight sacks last season, while Freeney recorded five sacks, even though Mathis squared off with far more chip blocks and tight ends on the strong side.
Now, moving to the weakside, Mathis should get plenty more rush opportunities while having to deal with opposing left tackles. In the long haul, the move could help Mathis’ sack total since he’ll do less coverage in the run game and have more opportunities to sack the quarterback.
Meanwhile, the Colts are expected to start recent free agent acquisition Erik Walden as a replacement for Mathis’ vacated spot at strong side. The Colts’ first-round pick in the 2013 NFL draft, Bjoern Werner has been getting acquainted with both outside linebacker positions, during OTAs and minicamp. Colts defensive coordinator Greg Manusky has often used all three – Mathis, Walden and Werner – on the field at the same time during workouts this offseason.