INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The subtle sneer spoke volumes.
With last week’s official end of organized offseason work for the Indianapolis Colts, was Robert Mathis looking forward to taking it easy over the next five-plus weeks?
Again, the sneer. It essentially shouted Are you crazy?
“You can take small breaks here and there, maybe an extended weekend,’’ offered Mathis. “But you can’t get away from it.
“Football is an unforgiving sport. If you stay true to it, it will stay true to you.’’
But if a player treats it as if it’s a seasonal venture, he might pay a high price. Players are expected to report to Anderson University July 26 for the start of training camp.
The Colts are optimistic they’re in bounce-back mode after failing to reach the playoffs last season. That in mind, players and coaches must brace themselves for a grueling seven-month stretch. The only break between late July and Super Bowl LI February 5 in Houston is the week 10 bye (November 13).
“It’s non-stop,’’ said Mathis, who at 35 is the Colts’ oldest position player (kick Adam Vinatieri is 43). “You’ve got to come in (to camp) clicking on all cylinders. If not, you’ll know. You’ll get exposed real quick if you’re not (ready).’’
The end of the three-day mandatory minicamp last Thursday signaled the conclusion of organized, coach-led activities until the start of training camp. Players are on their own, but many will continue to frequent the team complex for their individual work.
Mathis described the next several weeks as a balancing act involving football and family.
“You have to stay in tune,’’ he said.
His regimen consists of working out three or four hours per day Monday through Thursday.
“Come in here and get your work done, your rehab,’’ Mathis said. “You’re perfecting your craft, studying your playbook, working out, stretching, rehab.
“I’ll be here.’’
But there must be family time. Again, once training camp rolls around, football dominates a player’s waking hours.
“You have to,’’ Mathis said. “I have four kids. They’re going to demand their time. The twins are 4. They need to wrestle with dad and be active.
“I can take a little pressure off my wife. She’s been a trooper. Whenever you’re in football, the practice and minicamp are long hours away from home. You get back and help out where you can.
“Whatever she says goes.’’
Quarterback Andrew Luck agreed that while the Colts are in the midst of a relative calm-before-the-storm period, it’s imperative players budget preparation time. He indicated he and rookie center Ryan Kelly will get together in the coming weeks.
“He’s a Cincinnati guy, so not far (away),’’ Luck said. “We’ll absolutely do on and off-the-field (activities).
“A big part of the quarterback-center relationship is knowing each other and just getting reps. The fact of the matter is we haven’t been together for that long so reps will be important.
“Guys will get together.’’
Players will take advantage of having more time to themselves, Luck added, “but you have to come to camp better than when you left minicamp. That’s your obligation as a professional.
“It is a fun time. Obviously it’s the summer and there’s a chance to be with your family and to sort of regenerate. But training, working out and doing all of that is vitally important if you want to be a successful football team.’’