Colts' Freeney Seems Upbeat About Ankle

Super Bowl

Walking Boot Gone As Five-time Pro Bowl Selection Meets Media

February 03, 2010|By Mike Berardino | Mike Berardino,Tribune Newspapers

MIAMI -- If Dwight Freeney's Media Day mood was any indication, the Indianapolis Colts will have their sack master in the lineup come Super Bowl Sunday.

Freeney, the five-time Pro Bowl pick at defensive end, was smiling and joking with a media throng that crowded six deep around his table at Sun Life Stadium. He walked gingerly to his assigned post late Tuesday morning but no longer wore a walking boot on his injured right ankle.

Instead, he wore a pair of flip-flops in hopes of increasing the range of motion.

"The pain is going down, the swelling is going down," Freeney said. "That's the positive thing about it."

The negative? Freeney confirmed that he indeed has a torn ligament on the outside of the ankle, which suffered a Grade 3 sprain late in the Colts' AFC championship win over the New York Jets.

Surgery won't be required, Freeney said, but he doesn't expect to practice all week. There will be an on-field test of the ankle, but he isn't sure how close to kickoff that might take place.

"If I can't run, I can't play," he said. "I might be out there, but I don't know how effective I'll be."

He said he hopes to avoid taking a painkilling injection to play, especially if that would jeopardize his playing future. Freeney, who will turn 30 on Feb. 19, is halfway through a six-year, $72 million contract.

In the meantime, Freeney continues to use a wide range of treatments.

"Everything imaginable," he said. "I've thrown everything at it. You name it, I've probably done it."

Freeney has seen a pair of South Florida chiropractors since arriving Friday - three days ahead of the bulk of the team - to give himself extra time for the post-flight swelling to decrease.

A famously quick healer, Freeney also has used a hyperbaric chamber and a device called ARP that helps increase the flow of blood to the injured area.

Such methods helped him overcome a serious quadriceps injury in late September, as well as groin and hamstring problems in the past.

"Freeney's got some voodoo witch magic," Colts linebacker Gary Brackett said. "I think what he does is effective, and it seems no matter what the injury does, he always gets down on the field."

If Freeney can't play, eighth-year reserve Raheem Brock would take his place at right defensive end. Fellow defensive end Robert Mathis, selected to the past two Pro Bowls, would receive significantly more attention from the Saints' blockers if his running mate is out.

Growing up in the Northeast, Freeney has a passing familiarity with the tale of Willis Reed, the New York Knicks great who inspired his teammates by hobbling onto the court for Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals.

"I heard a little bit about it, but I don't know too much about it," Freeney said. "I guess he was hurt and then all of a sudden the first time they really saw him was coming out of the tunnel and everybody started cheering."

Reed took and made only a couple of early jump shots, but that was enough to send the Knicks on their way.

Could Freeney, who led the Colts with 13 1/2 sacks this season, have a similar impact even if he can only make it to the field for a few plays Sunday?

"I would hope so," he said with a laugh. "I think these guys have enough inspiration as it is just being in the Super Bowl. I'm going to try my best to help this team win, whatever that takes, whatever that means. I'm going to do what I have to do to get back out there."

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