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Wisniewski: 'We should be able to run the ball and protect our QB'
Robert Mathis has eight sacks in his first 12 games as a stand-up rush linebacker. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
Editor's note: This is the second part in a series that spotlights three Raiders-Colts matchups to watch Sunday, 10 a.m., at Lucas Oil Stadium.
[RELATED: Matchup No. 3: Porter vs. Wayne]
Raiders RT Tony Pashos vs. Colts OLB Robert Mathis
Tale of the tape:
Tony Pashos (79): 6-foot-6, 325 pounds, 10th season, Illinois
Robert Mathis (98): 6-foot-2, 246 pounds, 11th season, Alabama A&M
Robert Mathis will move around as a rush linebacker in the Colts 3-4 defense. He’ll find gaps and stay away from double teams, but he’ll primarily line up against the Raiders right tackle.
That makes him Tony Pashos’ responsibility, a tough task for a player signed Monday and asked to start the following Sunday. Pashos is a seasoned veteran who has dealt with speed rushers before, but Mathis’ speed and agility puts technique and system knowledge at a premium. Every moment counts against a rusher with 91 1/2 career sacks, including eight in his first 12 games as a stand-up rush linebacker.
“He’s as good as advertised,” Pashos said. “He hasn’t skipped a beat as his career has moved on. He’s a very intense player, a very good player for them.”
Pashos must be quick with his feet and decision making if he is to compete in this matchup.
He’s played well against quality rushers, but it’s been awhile.
Pashos started 12 games with Browns in 2011 before an ankle injury put him on the shelf all of last season. He made few starts between then and 2008, when he lined up opposite left tackle Khalif Barnes in Jacksonville. In an strange twist, he'll do so against Sunday with the Raiders.
Pashos is healthy again, fresh off a quality preseason with the Washington Redskins. He got cut and was picked up quickly by the Raiders, who were in desperate need of line depth. He was scheduled to be a swing tackle, but entered the starting lineup when Menelik Watson was lost to a knee injury and Barnes moved from right to left tackle.
Now he’ll go up against an experienced pass rusher in Mathis, and must neutralize that threat for the offense to move unencumbered.