There is no replacing Mathis’ impact on defense. Who starts in his absence might not be determined until training camp, but it’s never too early for us to take a look at the options at outside linebacker.
Bjoern Werner: The 2013 first-round pick had 15 tackles and 2.5 sacks as a rookie. Colts GM Ryan Grigson wanted Werner to spend time in the offseason getting stronger. "I know (defensive coordinator Greg) Manusky’s all over him about getting some guns and looking the part," Grigson said at the end of last season.
Cam Johnson: Johnson was a hot name after the Colts acquired him from San Francisco last September. The majority of his playing time ended up being on special teams.
Jonathan Newsome: Former Colts GM Bill Polian compared Newsome to Mathis moments after the Colts selected him No. 166 overall in the draft last weekend. The Colts would be in good hands if Newsome immediately started playing like Mathis. That likely won’t happen, because like Mathis, Newsome is transitioning from playing defensive end in college to outside linebacker in coach Chuck Pagano’s 3-4 defensive scheme.