INDIANAPOLIS -- Indianapolis Colts linebacker Robert Mathis stood at his locker Wednesday afternoon and spent several minutes talking to the media for the first time since being suspended by the NFL for four games for violating the league's drug policy.
Mathis apologized to his teammates and told them, "Sorry, and I’ll be back."
His teammates accepted his apology and remained confident in one of their leaders.
"I know who he is," Colts defensive lineman Cory Redding said. "I have no doubt the kind of person, the kind of character, what kind of man he is. Robert is a man. He owned up to his mistake.
"He addressed us, first and foremost, as a family. That’s what we are, a unit, a team. As long as we have his back -- and he knows that -- then everything else will work out."
Mathis is allowed to participate in all offseason workouts, as well as preseason practices and games, while suspended. He'll miss the Colts' first four regular-season games and is eligible to return the day after the Sept. 28 game against Tennessee.
As they’ve always done when they lose a teammate or coach for a period of time, the Colts said it’s the "next man up" to fill the void in Mathis’ absence.
"I understand [the suspension is] all set in stone, so there’s nothing you can say or do that’s going to change anything," quarterback Andrew Luck said. "I know we’re not wasting our breath talking about it. We realize the circumstance. We realize we’re going to be without our best player, probably, for the first four games.
"Guys are going to have to step up. We’ll manage, we’ll do our best, and I think we have a lot of confidence in a lot of guys in this locker room and this building to pick up the slack."