ANDERSON — Robert Mathis’ first move was to his right, just to see if left tackle Anthony Castonzo would bite.
The third-year offensive lineman had to respect the veteran’s speed rush, even though there’s a seven-year age difference, and he dove to the outside.
At that moment, Mathis knew he had won.
The 32-year-old outside linebacker cut back to his left in an instant, ducking under a last-ditch effort by Castonzo to get in his way. For a moment, it seemed as though Mathis was destined to wind up face first in the grass.
But he somehow hovered just above the ground, like a bird of prey soaring inches above the water, and emerged on the other side. If the tackling dummy representing the quarterback in the backfield had been a real person, he might have been seeking alternative employment.
It might have been the most athletic play made by any member of the Indianapolis Colts during this year’s training camp. And it really should come as no surprise it came from the team’s stalwart defensive leader.
“That was something I came up with like nine, 10 years ago when I was a young pup,” Mathis said Thursday at Anderson University. “I thought I would just have a little fun, show them that the old man’s still got it.”
It looked as though even Cleveland Browns left tackle Joe Thomas couldn’t have stopped the move the way Mathis unleashed it Wednesday. And the veteran said it’s a trick he’s pulled out a few times with some success in practice.
He tried it once in a game against the Tennessee Titans years ago and got a quarterback pressure. But it’s something he saves primarily for special occasions.
The Colts are hoping to see a lot of successful moves from Mathis this year. He’s the only proven pass rusher on the roster, and opponents are sure to put special emphasis on him in their game plans.