How will Driver’s quad injury affect the Steelers’ coverage units?

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings (L) and wide receiver Donald Driver play with a video camera prior to Media Day for Super Bowl XLV in Arlington, Texas on February 1, 2011. The Pittsburgh Steelers will take on the Green Bay Packers on February 6, 2011. UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg

Donald Driver was added to the Packers’ injury report on Thursday due to a problem with his quad, but Mike McCarthy says he would be shocked if his starting receiver doesn’t play in the Super Bowl.

I’d also be shocked if Driver doesn’t play, as the injury doesn’t sound serious enough to hold him out. That said, how effective will he be? If he’s being held out of practice (even for precautionary measures), then it stands to reason that he’s not at full strength. Will his injury have an effect on the Packers’ passing game?

It’ll be interesting to see what coverages Dick LeBeau uses on Sunday. The Steelers run mostly a cover-2 like the Bears, although LeBeau knows that his corners will also have to man-up in certain situations, which may be a problem seeing as how Bryant McFadden is dealing with an abdominal injury.

With Driver hurt, will LeBeau use Ike Taylor on Greg Jennings and take his chances with McFadden on Driver? Or will he want Taylor to take away Driver and have McFadden cover Jennings with safety help over the top?

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Pittsburgh go to their nickel or even dime package plenty of times throughout the night. But LeBeau wants to avoid the dime as much as possible because that means Lawrence Timmons, a good cover linebacker, comes off the field in favor of Anthony Madison. That’s an advantage for the Packers, just as it was when the Patriots crushed Pittsburgh 39-26 back in November when the Steelers used a lot of dime.

Assuming Driver’s injury isn’t a major concern, the Packers must get the Steelers out of their base defense as much as possible. Again, it’s a major advantage to them to face Pittsburgh’s nickel and dime units because it limits what LeBeau can do with his front seven.

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Freeney speaks out about ankle injury

Media Day for Super Bowl XLIV was today and as expected, Colts’ defensive end Dwight Freeney faced several questions about his ankle injury and his health status for Sunday.

From ESPN.com:

“Hopefully, towards the end of the week it starts to get better,” Freeney said at Tuesday’s media day. “The decision will come later on in the week. It’s kind of early now.”

“The competitor in me says they’ll never stop me from being on the field,” he said with a laugh before adding: “There’s some pain there definitely with throwing everything at it, all types of techniques to find the best thing to get this thing as good as possible. You name it, I’ve probably done it.”

“Obviously, the competitor in me says ‘nothing is going to stop me,’ but that said, it is not up to me — it is up to the coach and the staff,” he added.

Freeney admitted that he probably wouldn’t practice the rest of the week, which is a telling sign that the Colts are hoping that he’ll be healthy enough to play for three hours on Sunday and nothing more. He reportedly walked with a limp today and his ankle was noticeably swollen, according a report by NFL.com.

Caldwell expects Freeney to play in Super Bowl

Jim Caldwell told the media on Monday that he expects defensive end Dwight Freeney to play in Super Bowl XLIV.

From NFL.com:

Colts coach Jim Caldwell appeared on SIRIUS NFL Radio with Adam Schein and Rich Gannon on Monday and confirmed what a team spokesman said about Dwight Freeney the previous day. The All-Pro defensive end is in Miami, receiving treatment for a third-degree ankle sprain, and is considered questionable for Sunday’s Super Bowl against the Saints.

Caldwell also echoed the refrain that Freeney is a quick healer and has been in this situation before, when it looked as if he wouldn’t play.
The Colts are willing to wait until the very last second to make a decision on Freeney’s status.

“If he’s able to go and capable of going,” Caldwell said, “I mean, we’ll wait until the last hour if need be, and I think he’ll be able to do his job and do it well.”

I’m going to sound like a broken record all week, but so be it: Even if Freeney does play, he won’t be at 100% and that’s all that should matter here. He’s a speed rusher with a bad ankle – how effective does anyone actually think he’ll be?

As a football fan with no alliance to either team, I hope Freeney is able to play and play well. But the reality of the situation is that he has a tear in his ankle and I don’t six days of treatment are going to mend the injury. Again, I hope I’m wrong but this isn’t a good situation for the Colts, no matter how much Caldwell spins it.


Photo from fOTOGLIF

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