- Mike Wells, ESPN Staff Writer
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INDIANAPOLIS – The first time Indianapolis Colts linebacker Robert Mathis plays in a game this season might not be until he returns from his four-game suspension against the Baltimore Ravens on Oct. 5.
Mathis hasn’t played in the preseason, and Chuck Pagano doesn't sound like a coach who plans to play his star linebacker in either of the final two preseason games. Mathis is suspended for violating the league's drug policy.
“We understand that we’re going to be without Rob, and we’ve got to make sure that from a preparation standpoint, staying in it mentally throughout the course of practice, those types of things, you get him enough,” Pagano said. “There’s a fine line because we know we’re not going to have him for four weeks. You’ve got to get the other guys ready to go, get them playing time and get them the snaps that they need. It’s tough.
“I’m not going to say we’ve totally ruled out the idea of him playing in the preseason. We’ll just take it day by day. I know we’ve got two opportunities left and we’ll just see where we’re at. If there’s an opportunity and it makes sense for us to get him out there then we will.”
The third preseason game is when teams tend to play their starters through at least halftime. That game for the Colts will be against the New Orleans Saints at Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday. The final preseason game is the opposite. The starters routinely sit out that game.
Bjoern Werner will start in Mathis’ absence.