INDIANAPOLIS – Everyone knows
Playing in a rush linebacker spot for the first time in his NFL career, Mathis gave opposing offenses nightmares in 2013.
His 19.5 sacks led the NFL and he compiled 46.4 percent of the Colts sack total last year (10 percent higher then any player in the league).
If it hasn’t happened already, Mathis will undoubtedly see more attention his way in 2014, and with that allows opportunities for other Colts to get in on the pass rushing action.
Here’s a look at the three Colts who followed Mathis in the sacks category last season:
While Redding was one of the better 3-4 defensive ends against the run last year (7th in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus), the 11-year veteran also had his second highest career-sack total with 4.5.
His interior pressure was a welcomed commodity for the Colts defense and something that should only bolster with a healthy
When the 2013 season came to a close, Redding didn’t like the sight of all the trash bags around the Colts locker room.
Redding doesn’t want those bags coming around until early February 2015 and he left his teammates with this message:
“Don’t stop pressing. Continue to press in every phase of your life. Continue to be great men, great fathers and ultimate teammates and never stop. Always continue to keep getting better and get ready to do it one more time. Take time to let your body heal. Refresh your mind, but come back next year ready to grind.”
The tackling machine Freeman showed in 2012 was once again on display last year, with an added dimension.
Freeman made game-changing plays from the inside linebacker position, something that isn’t typically seen from that spot around the NFL.
In his second year in the NFL, Freeman excelled as a blitzer and Pro Football Focus ranked him as the second best pass rushing inside linebacker last year (5.5 sacks).
Freeman has experience playing on the Canadian Football League’s biggest stage (Grey Cup) and now he hopes to reach that same level in the NFL.
“You know how we feel around here is a successful year is a Super Bowl. We have lofty expectations for ourselves, reachable goals though,” Freeman said.
“We felt we could have reached them (in 2013) regardless of all the adversity we did face. We’re going to get better. We’ll be back next year and we’ll be alright.”
Walden’s 3.0 sacks in 2013 don’t jump off the stat sheet but Chuck Pagano has made it clear what he is looking for, and what he’s getting, out of the man opposite Robert Mathis.
“He’s a great edge setter in the run game,” Pagano says of Walden. “That’s the number one criteria for the position that he plays. No. 2 is pass rush. He’s more then a capable pass rusher. The numbers weren’t what he wanted or expected but he affected a lot of plays. You may not have a lot of sack numbers like Robert did on the other side but he affects a lot of those plays. He affects plays that other guys make.”
Walden came to Indianapolis in 2013 with a Super Bowl ring and after recharging his body this offseason, he’s anxious for another shot at Lombardi Trophy No. 2.
“We fell short of our goals but like I was telling the young guys, ‘It’s a learning experience and you’ve got to move on.’ If this isn’t motivation for the offseason, I don’t know what is.”