How will Freeney’s injury affect the Super Bowl?

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that Colts’ defensive end Dwight Freeney has a torn ligament in his injured right ankle, which means he could wind up missing Super Bowl XLIV.

This is the biggest game of the year and the Colts could be without their top pass rusher. This is devastating news for Indy to say the least and even if he does tough it out and play, he probably won’t be at 100%.

Freeney led the Colts with 13.5 sacks and along with Robert Mathis, gave the team a fierce pass rush – one that is supposed to keep Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees on edge. The best way to disrupt an opposing team’s offensive game plan is to get in the quarterback’s face and make him throw the ball sooner than he intends. That same notion can be applied to Brees and the Saints, who looked like a completely different offense in a Week 14 loss to the Cowboys, thanks to DeMarcus Ware and Dallas’ explosive pass rush.

If Freeney is limited on Sunday or misses the game entirely, then Brees should be more comfortable in the pocket, which is a scary thought for the Colts. In Marques Colston, Robert Meachem, Devery Henderson and Jeremy Shockey, the Saints have a plethora of weapons for Brees to use to attack Indy’s secondary. And if he has all day to throw, then Brees should be able to strike for big plays and keep the Colts on their heels the entire game.

Another thing to keep in mind is that if Freeney can’t play, then the Saints won’t have to keep extra blockers in to keep protect Brees. With Freeney and Mathis both on the field, teams usually have to keep an extra blocker in (usually a running back) to help keep their quarterback upright. But with just Mathis to worry about, the Saints can roll their backs into the flats or over the middle, and we all know what Reggie Bush can do in open space. Obviously the Saints are at an advantage when Bush is on the field, compared to a blocking back like Pierre Thomas or Mike Bell.

Granted, it’s a ridiculous notion to suggest that one player (outside of the quarterback) can change the course of an entire game, but it would be a mistake to dismiss how vital Freeney is to the Colts’ defense. He’s a game-changer who relies on his speed to disrupt the flow of an opponent’s offense and if he can’t play, Indy will be limited in what it can do in its game plan come Sunday. Obviously this injury has no affect on Peyton Manning and the Colts’ offense, but given how explosive the Saints are, Freeney is the one player Indy can’t afford to lose.

The best-case scenario for the Colts would be if Freeney doesn’t practice all week and his ankle feels better by Sunday. But if he does have a tear, then it’s going to take longer than six days for the injury to heel. He has already admitted that the injury hasn’t improved over the last week and he has yet to practice.

With that in mind, I’m sure the Colts are already preparing for the inevitable: That they might be without their best defensive player for Super Bowl Sunday.

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Saints’ injury report lengthy

After going through their first real practice on Thursday in preparation for the Colts and Super Bowl XLIV, they released a pretty lengthy injury report with several key names on it.

Starters Jeremy Shockey (knee), Darren Sharper (knee), Jonathan Vilma (knee) and Will Smith (groin) were all on Thursday’s injury report, as well as cornerbacks Randall Gay and Malcolm Jenkins, running back Lynell Hamilton, kick returner Courtney Roby and offensive lineman Zach Streif.

Head coach Sean Payton indicated that Shockey received good news from his visit with the acclaimed Dr. James Andrews earlier this week and that there hasn’t been a setback with the tight end’s knee. Shockey said on Thursday that he’s prepared to play with pain and that he’ll do everything he can, “even if that requires hurting myself.”

The injuries to Sharper, Vilma, Smith and the rest of the Saints appear to be minor and as of right now, there is no threat to them missing the Super Bowl. At least, Payton and the rest of New Orleans better hope so.

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Is Freeney’s injury worse than Colts are letting on?

If asked to name as many players on the Colts’ defense as they could, the causal NFL fan may struggle coming up with five names. But the one name that would undoubtedly come out of his or her mouth would be defensive end Dwight Freeney.

In only 14 games this season, Freeney racked up 13.5 sacks, 24 tackles and one forced fumble. At times, he provides all the pass-rush that the Colts need and will play a crucial role in the team’s success come February 7 when Indianapolis takes on the Saints in Super Bowl XLIV.

The problem with that, however, is that Freeney sprained his right ankle in the AFC Championship Game last weekend and although head coach Jim Caldwell told the Indianapolis Star that his Pro Bowl D-end’s ankle was progressing, there’s some question about whether or not Freeney will actually be at 100% health come Super Bowl Sunday.

Freeney missed practice on Thursday and isn’t expected to partake in any of the Pro Bowl activities, so he’ll have at least a week of rest before getting back onto the practice field. And if the ankle hasn’t shown any signs of improvement by Monday, Caldwell would surely limit Freeney’s participation n in practice the week of the Super Bowl.

If he does wind up missing an entire two weeks of practice, will Freeney be as effective during the Super Bowl as he was this season? He’s an eight-year veteran of the Colts’ defense, so it’s not like he needs extra reps at this point in his career. But even after only two weeks of inactively, the game has a tendency to slow down for players.

Given how vital it’ll be for the Colts to pressure Saints quarterback Drew Brees, having Freeney at 100% is crucial.

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