Update 2/7/10: According to multiple reports, Dwight Freeney will start in the Super Bowl. He is apparently out on the field warming up, but expectedly favoring his injuring ankle. As Gregg Doyel of CBS points on his Twitter feed, “Freeney is active for XLIV, and warming up now. He’s got some serious (legal) drugs in him.”
Update 2/7/10: The latest injury update on Dwight Freeney, per Suzy Kolber on ESPN this morning, is that Freeney will warm up and test the ankle when he gets to the stadium and hopes to be able to get on the field for obvious passing downs. No one is really sure, however, how well the ankle will respond in pregame.
We know that if Freeney does play, the Saints will go after his ankle and try to get him out for good. This will be the most talk about subplot of the Super Bowl pregame shows.
Update 2/6/09: This is obviously one of the biggest stories of the week – if not the biggest – so I figured this post deserved an update and to be recycled back to the front page.
The latest on Dwight Freeney’s ankle injury is that while he did not practice on Friday, the Colts (at least publicly) appear to be optimistic about his availability for Sunday. He won’t play his normal set of downs, but the Colts are hoping that he can at least give them something on obvious passing downs. I’ll update this post again tomorrow with the latest.
Dwight Freeney is one of the most underrated players in the NFL over the past decade, and I say that even though the Colts’ DE was recently named to the NFL’s All Decade team.
Unfortunately for Indianapolis, Freeney is also the biggest injury story of Super Bowl week, with a torn ligament in his right ankle leaving Freeney questionable for Sunday’s game.
All of the talking heads that I have heard opine about Freeney suggest that the most likely scenario is for him to play but be limited, with his #1 asset – speed off the edge – hindered by some degree.
And while I don’t think that Drew Brees is the kind of guy who would ever wish harm on an opponent, I’m sure that he wouldn’t be too broken up about it if Freeney was too hobbled to get to him on Sunday night.
Below are a few excerpts from stories about Dwight Freeney’s injury. Notice the discrepancy between how the Colts are describing the injury and how more “objective” reports are describing it. For anyone who has followed the NFL even peripherally over the past 10-15 years, this should not be surprising. The only thing less honest than a politician is injury information from an NFL team.
Indianapolis Colts Pro Bowl defensive end Dwight Freeney has a torn ligament in his right ankle that will make it difficult for him to play against the New Orleans Saints in Super Bowl XLIV, a source familiar with the injury told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.
The Colts are maintaining that Freeney has a low ankle sprain, not a torn ligament, and that he is still questionable for the Super Bowl.
Team spokesman Craig Kelley said Sunday night Freeney was being treated in Florida for a basketball-type injury, nothing more.
Dwight Freeney Injury Update: Health of Colts DE Becomes Issue — (Indianapolis Star)
The effectiveness, even the availability, of defensive end Dwight Freeney for Super Bowl XLIV because of an ankle injury likely will cause angst among the Indianapolis Colts and has injected an unexpected story line into the days leading up to the NFL’s championship game Sunday.
In an interview with NFL Network at Sunday night’s Pro Bowl at Sun Life Stadium, Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne said, “Dwight told me he’ll be ready.”
That remains to be seen. A third-degree sprain is the worst, and usually involves a torn or ruptured ligament.
The Indianapolis Colts are maintaining that Pro Bowl defensive end Dwight Freeney has a low ankle sprain, not a torn ligament, and that he is still questionable for the Super Bowl.
Dwight Freeney’s injured ankle is “really bad” and could keep him out of the Super Bowl, a person close to the All-Pro defensive end toldThe Associated Pressin an e-mail Sunday night.
The person requested anonymity because the information differed from what theIndianapolis Coltssaid earlier in the day. The team insisted that Freeney has a low ankle sprain and remains questionable for the game against theNew Orleans Saints.
So that’s where we are on Monday. I’ll be updating this post throughout the week, so if you want the latest information on Freeney’s injury, just bookmark this page and come back for the updates.
Or, you can just wait for this to happen on Sunday: Freeney’s status will be in doubt heading into the game, he’ll take a shot to numb the pain, and he’ll give it everything he’s got on Sunday. From the sound of it, that probably won’t be much. But if he can even be on the field for 10-15 plays, his reputation and the mere threat of his presence off the end could free Robert Mathis up to make a few plays.
We’ll see if I’m right, but that’s usually how these big game injuries go.
If you are a more casual NFL or Colts fan, you might also be wondering just how important this injury is. I mean, it’s not like we’re talking about Reggie Wayne or Dallas Clark, right?
Exactly…it’s far important than if either of those guys were injured.
Other than an injury to Peyton Manning and Drew Brees, nothing would affect how Super Bowl XLIV is played than an injury to Dwight Freeney. He was named to the All Decade team for a reason. Since he entered the league in 2002, Freeney leads the NFL in sacks, tackles for loss, and forced fumbles.
To put it bluntly, he’s a man…man.
Indianapolis’ entire defensive scheme is based around the ability of their fantastic speed rushing ends – Pro Bowlers Freeney and Mathis – to put pressure on the quarterback. The perfect gameplan for Indy is to get up early, force other teams to throw the ball, and unleash the Freeney-Mathis combo with hellish results. The presence of both makes it extremely difficult for teams to double one or the other.
If Freeney is unable to go, or is a shell of a usually explosive self, the Saints will be able to roll more protection to Mathis’ side. If Mathis is hindered from getting to Drew Brees, and Freeney can’t provide pressure on his bum ankle, then Drew Brees will have time to sit in the pocket and locate receivers. The Colts have a good secondary and a good overall team defense, but they are not good enough to contain the Saints’ offense if Brees is not feeling pressure.
So, here is the takeaway…
If the reports on Freeney do not improve and it looks like he will either not play or be severely limited, plenty of Super Bowl picks will justifiably be reconsidered. I say strongly consider taking New Orleans to cover the current Colts-Saints point spread of 5.5 if Freeney is out. I don’t think the loss of Freeney means the Colts can’t win – obviously, because they still have Peyton after all – but it does mean that New Orleans is a much better Saints-Colts spread pick option as they will have a much better chance of matching the Colts point for point.
Furthermore, bet the over! We know that the Colts are going to score points. I’m sure New Orleans will get some pressure on Peyton Manning, but he is so good that it won’t really matter. The Saints got plenty of pressure on Brett Favre in the NFC Championship Game and the Vikings still racked up 28 points and almost 500 yards of total offense.
Freeney being out makes it even more likely that Super Bowl XLIV turns into a mano-a-mano battle between Drew Brees and Peyton Manning that would be thrilling…for everyone except those who foolishly took the under.
For the record, I hope Freeney plays, and is as healthy as possible, because you want to see both teams at their best in the biggest game of the season. He’s the third most important player on the field and it’d be a shame if he’s unable to have an impact on the game.
Updates to come throughout the week.
Update 2/2/10: The early indications from Media Day are that the Colts expect Dwight Freeney to play on Sunday.
Update 2/3/10: The news keeps on getting better for Freeney and the Colts as Freeney now says that the pain in his ankle is subsiding. PFT suggests that Freeney might play only passing downs, and based on the latest reports he might be able to do so pretty successfully.
* – Dwight Freeney hands up photo credit: Getty Images via SeattlePI.com
* – Dwight Freeney celebrating photo credit: Andy Lyons / Getty Images via ESPN.com
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