Indianapolis Colts Defense Might Play Dwightless

Super Bowl week in Miami, Florida certainly kicked off with a bang last night, or perhaps it is more fitting to say it started with a pop. Right before the Pro Bowl started last night, news hit that Indianapolis Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney is questionable for the big game due to a torn ligament in his right ankle. Freeney, who lead the Colts defense with 13.5 sacks this season, is now given a 50-50 chance of playing in Sunday’s showdown.

There is some confusion as to how serious the injury is to Dwight Freeney. What is not in question is the impact this will have on Indy‘s defensive strategy against Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints.

The confusion about what exactly Freeney is dealing with comes from the different descriptions the injury has been given, so let’s clear that up right now. Unnamed sources close to the situation stated Sunday night that Freeney had a torn right ankle ligament. The Indianapolis Colts stated late Sunday that Dwight suffered a low ankle sprain.

Team spokesman Craig Kelley said Sunday night Freeney was being treated in Florida for a basketball-type injury.

“He is under the care of our athletic training staff,” Kelley said. “Nothing we have seen changes our diagnosis that he is questionable. He has a third-degree, low basketball sprain.”

What is strange here is the fact that Indianapolis has diagnosed Freeney’s ankle injury as a third-degree sprain, which, by definition involves a complete tear of the ankle ligament.

The injury occurred during the Indianapolis Colts AFC Championship  game against the New York Jets a week ago at Lucas Oil Stadium, when Freeney pulled up to avoid a late hit on Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez late in the fourth quarter.

Freeney, who has been in a walking boot all week, flew to South Florida on Friday to begin a battery of treatments for the ankle. Freeney, who has shown an amazing ability to heal quickly in the past, is trying several different treatments to speed up the recovery process.

As in the past, Freeney is using a hyperbolic chamber to increase his body’s oxygen intake, which aids the body in treating the ankle from within. Freeney is also using a device called ARP that is similar to a stem device to move the blood supply to the damaged ankle. The ARP operates differently than normal stem devices, but ARP has helped him in past years recover quickly from groin and hamstring pulls.

The injury is to the outside of Freeney’s right ankle which will make it difficult for the Colts sack leader to turn and pivot on the leg. This will limit Dwight’s ability to utilize his amazing speed and signature spin move to attack Saints quarterback Drew Brees.

Several Indianapolis Colts teammates who were also in South Florida for the Pro Bowl were asked about the big man’s injury and towed the company line with their responses.

“It’s hard to speculate at this point,” said Colts quarterback Peyton Manning. “Dwight is one of our best players, we know that. But all season long Coach Caldwell has talked about picking up the bayonet. Someone’s got to step up. If Dwight were not to be able to go that would be tough, but somebody else will step up and we’ll feel confident in whoever that is.”

First time Pro Bowler and Indianapolis Colts tight end Dallas Clark was also asked about what the possible loss of Freeney meant to the Colts and their Super Bowl chances. “He has had injuries before where they said [he’s] not going to play and he has come back, he is a competitor, he is one of the toughest guys on our team and I never expect him to miss anything.”

While Colts team president Bill Polian has been quoted saying that Freeney will play this Sunday, Indianapolis sports fans are left wondering just how effective No. 93 will be if he does go.

The injury is not life-threatening to the Colts Super Bowl chances, it is however a huge blow. Freeney is not only a leader statistically for Indianapolis, he is also a leader in the locker room and on the field. Other players looked to him for guidance and strength.

Freeney is a veteran who understands how precious this opportunity is to play in the Super Bowl. Just a few weeks ago I read how he still thinks about all the playoff losses of seasons past and how the Colts need to capitalize on every opportunity they have in the future. This tells me that as long as Freeney can move  on his injured ankle, he will play this Sunday.

He most likely will be limited to passing downs such as 2nd and long 3rd downs, but some Freeney is better than no Freeney. The injury also means that the Colts defense will just have to step up even more than they have all season. It also will add some extra pressure to fellow defensive end Robert Mathis to collapse the pocket on Drew Brees.

One thing is for sure, with all of the media coverage and hype the Super Bowl generates, this is not the last we have heard of Dwight Freeney’s injured ankle. Stay close to your computer and check back with us here at all week as we bring you all the latest in Indianapolis Colts news.