Sports

Indianapolis coaches already preparing for life without Mathis to start season

File-This Jan. 26, 2014, file photo shows Indianapolis Colts outside linebacker Robert Mathis  of Team Rice during introductions on the field before the start of the NFL Pro Bowl football game at Aloha Stadium, in Honolulu.  Mathis has been suspended four games for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. The league made the announcement Friday, May 16, 2014. In a statement, the Colts said they wanted to reassure Mathis that he would remain an “honored and cherished” member of the team. They also offered to support Mathis throughout the process.  (AP Photo/Marco Garcia, File)

File-This Jan. 26, 2014, file photo shows Indianapolis Colts outside linebacker Robert Mathis of Team Rice during introductions on the field before the start of the NFL Pro Bowl football game at Aloha Stadium, in Honolulu. Mathis has been suspended four games for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. The league made the announcement Friday, May 16, 2014. In a statement, the Colts said they wanted to reassure Mathis that he would remain an “honored and cherished” member of the team. They also offered to support Mathis throughout the process. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia, File)  (The Associated Press)

Coach Chuck Pagano says the Colts will survive the early-season loss of reigning sacks champion Robert Mathis.

The NFL announced Friday that Mathis would be suspended for the first four games this season after violating the league's performance-enhancing substance policy. Mathis then apologized to fans and teammates in a statement, explaining he used a fertility drug. His wife is now pregnant.

Indy quickly issued a statement saying it supported Mathis, one of the team's most respected leaders.

Pagano reiterated those comments before a rookie minicamp practice Saturday.

Mathis led the league with a franchise-record 19½ sacks last season. The rest of his teammates had a total of 21½ sacks.

Pagano says the Colts must find a way to replace their most effective pass rusher.