Teammates expect Colts' Freeney to play

5-time All-Pro still undergoing treatment

February 02, 2010|By Harvey Fialkov | Tribune Newspapers

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — — Although Indianapolis Colts five-time Pro Bowl defensive end Dwight Freeney has been in South Florida receiving treatment since Friday for what coach Jim Caldwell described as a third-degree low ankle sprain, his teammates are optimistic that one of the NFL's premier pass rushers will be on the field for the Super Bowl.

"Dwight's doing everything he can do to get back in this game," linebacker Gary Brackett said shortly after arriving at the Harbor Beach Marriott team hotel Monday evening. "In my opinion, Dwight's going to be ready to go. … He's eager, has a high threshold of pain to go out there and still be productive even though he's injured."

Earlier this season, Freeney returned just seven days after suffering a quadriceps injury that was expected to keep him out for three weeks.

Caldwell and Brackett said the Colts will practice at the Dolphins' team facility this week under the assumption that Freeney will not play. They also have confidence that his backup, Raheem Brock, who had 3.5 sacks this season, will fill in admirably opposite Pro Bowl defensive end Robert Mathis and be able to apply pressure on quarterback Drew Brees, who led the NFL with 34 touchdown passes and a 109.6 passer rating.

"If he can't go, our old mantra, we've said time and time again, the next man is up," Caldwell said.

Freeney, whose trademark spin move has accounted for 13.5 sacks in 14 games this season, third most in the NFL, has been in a walking boot all week and has been using a hyperbaric chamber to expedite healing.

"I count my blessings every day I don't have to let him rush against me in live practice," Colts quarterback Peyton Manning said.

Is that a threat?
Manning didn't add fuel to comments made by New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams to a radio station.

Williams said the Saints had to get a few "remember me" shots on Manning and if they hit him late, "you hope he doesn't get back up and play again."

Said Manning: "I didn't hear it, so I guess I've been playing long enough that I don't have any reaction to a comment like that."

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