Colts coach Chuck Pagano left no room for doubt that he’s standing behind outside linebacker Robert Mathis, a day after the NFL announced that Mathis has been suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.
“We love and respect Robert Mathis,” Pagano said. “He’s a horseshoe guy, he’s a pillar guy, and like I said before, we’ve got his back. Everybody in this organization has his back and we’ll get through this and at the end of the day, we’ll all be better for it.”
Pagano said he’s confident his team can adjust to the loss of its best defensive player for a quarter of the season.
“We certainly understand the severity of this situation, but as we’ve done many, many times before in our short stint here, we’ll get through this,” Pagano said. “We’ll come together as a team. We’ll come together as a family. We’ll come together as an organization and we’ll get through this. . . . That’s why we’ve got a 90-man roster right now. We lost five starters I believe last year on offense, right? It was next man up in those situations. So somebody will take advantage of the opportunity to show up and play great football.”
Mathis played great football last year, recording 19.5 sacks and having by far the best season of his 11-year career. That won’t be easy to replace.