A Lot Is Riding On Freeney's Health

Dwight Freeney

The Indianapolis Colts defense is not the same without top pass rusher Dwight Freeney, the one Tom Brady calls the best defender he's ever seen. Freeney's ankle may keep him sidelined in the biggest game of the year. If he can't go, the Saints will breath a little more easily.

Dwight Freeney continues to hold out hope, despite nursing torn ligaments in his right ankle, that he'll be able to see some playing time Sunday night against the New Orleans Saints.

Freeney was hurt in the final minutes of the Colts' 30-17 AFC Championship Game win over the New York Jets. He has not practiced since he initially incurred the injury and said that he does not expect to see any work in the days leading up to Super Bowl XLIV.

"It's safe to say that I probably won't. I'll probably stay off of it and just get ready," Freeney said.

Right now, the three-time Pro Bowl selection is waiting to see if the swelling and soreness in his ankle can be relieved in the limited time available.

"The ankle is pretty much day-to-day. Every morning I wake up hoping (it will be better). It's all right, I don't know if I can stretch it way out here (lifts leg). It's just day-to-day. Hopefully, toward the end of the week it starts to get better. It still has a little bit of swelling left, trying to get it out," he said.

After posting a team-high 13.5 sacks this past season, it doesn't look too promising that he'll be in the starting lineup against the Saints. Playing at all remains a toss-up.

"That's going to be a decision that's going to be later on in the week. It's kind of early. This happened (two weeks ago), so we definitely have some recovery to go," he said. "It's going to be a decision made by our coaching staff come Friday, maybe Saturday, (as to) how much time I'm actually going to be playing."

Freeney has been known to be a quick healer. He suffered a strained groin earlier this year and was thought to be sidelined for several weeks. But he returned to the starting lineup much sooner than anybody anticipated.

But an ankle injury is much different. A speed pass rusher who may be the quickest defensive end in the NFL off the line of scrimmage, being able to move off the line of scrimmage in a hurry is his best weapon in his arsenal of moves.

It's still not known if any attempt at playing this week could further damage the ankle. That fact alone could be the deciding factor as to whether Freeney gets in the game at all or winds up watching from the sideline.

"You always factor that in, you never really know. Like I said, it is early to where as though I don't know exactly what's going to happen. Obviously, the competitor in me says, 'Nothing's going to stop me from going on that field.' That being said, you don't know how it's (the ankle) going to be come game time. I'm going to let the coaching staff and everybody collectively come up with that decision," he said.

"There is some pain there. As you know, it's a torn ligament. So there's definitely going to be pain there. I'm just going to deal with it, just trying to get the swelling down, and just trying to get back to what I do."

While he has not ruled out getting a pain shot before Sunday's game, the possibility remains remote.

"I haven't really talked about that to be honest with you. It really hadn't been part of our discussion as far as 'what if this thing doesn't get better to where you think you can play without doing that?' I guess that's a conversation me and the docs are going to have to have on Saturday, if it's even safe to do such a thing," Freeney said.

SERIES HISTORY: 11th overall meeting. The series is tied, 5-5. Super Bowl XLIV is the first-ever postseason matchup between the two franchises. Indianapolis has won the last two meetings, posting a 55-21 decision at the Superdome in New Orleans on Sept. 28, 2003 and winning 41-10 at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis on Sept. 6, 2007. Prior to the last two games, the Saints had won five in a row.


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