Indianapolis Colts: Updating the Dwight Freeney Situation

Here’s what we know, the Indianapolis Colts are calling Dwight Freeney‘s injury a “third-degree, low basketball sprain.” By definition, a third-degree sprain is the most severe, and is usually accompanied by a torn or ruptured ligament. Several major media outlets have confirmed that he does indeed have a torn ligament, but nobody is certain as to how much it will limit him.

The last we heard from, the Indianapolis Star was reporting that Freeney told the gathered media masses at the Super Bowl that his ankle is feeling “a lot better than yesterday.” That was on Wednesday, and he did so with his ankle elevated on a side chair, something Colts doctors told him to do for the entirety of the day. In addition to elevation, Freeney is receiving the most advanced treatments medicine has to offer. He’s been spending hours at a time in a hyperbaric chamber, a pressurized chamber that is said to speed up the healing process and alleviate pain, and he’s using an electrical-stimulation machine on his ankle round the clock. When asked on Friday if Freeney would be testing the ankle out, Jim Caldwell said simply,  “He’s trending in the right direction. He’s getting better.”

Listen, there’s little doubt Freeney will be in uniform Sunday night.  This whole “game time decision” thing just isn’t reasonable.  Why help the Saints out by telling them beforehand  they don’t have to worry about our best defensive player?  Not happening.  He’ll be in uniform, and he’ll be on the field, I have no doubt about that, but the fear many Indy residents have is how effective he’ll be. Considering Dwight’s game relies heavily on his blazing speed, nimble footwork, and demoralizing spin moves — all abilities that could be hindered by the ankle injury — the concern is valid.

If Freeney can’t get to Drew Brees and doesn’t command a double-team, all of sudden Robert Mathis becomes the focal of the Saints offensive line. And there goes the Colts pass-rushing attack. If Jim Caldwell’s defensive front can’t disrupt Brees’ timing, the former Purdue Boilermaker will find the holes in the Colts secondary. Needless to say, Freeney’s ability to perform at a productive level is imperative to the Colts success on Sunday. Hence, the current media frenzy.

If I’ve learned anything watching and studying the Bill Polian Colts over the past decade it’s this: they’re notoriously reticent when detailing the nature of an injury. Not just the front office, that policy runs down through the whole organization. The most you’ll ever hear is “he’s progressing” or “I feel better today than I did yesterday.” Sometimes, that’s meant the situation was more dire than the club was letting on (see: Corey Simon ’06, Marvin Harrison ’07 and Anthony Gonzalez ’09).

Other times, restraint has worked to their advantage. When Freeney injured his quadriceps in the Week Three game against Arizona, reports from “sources” were that he’d be out 2 to 3 weeks. Freeney said things like “I want to be out there,” Caldwell said his defensive end was “a quick healer,” and Colts defensive lineman talked about being the “next man up.” Sound familiar? It’s exactly what you’re hearing from all the participants this week. Not only did Freeney not miss multiple games, he suited up the next Sunday against Seattle, and though he only played 17 snaps, recorded a sack and two tackles.

And that’s exactly what the Colts will need on Sunday. Freeney doesn’t have to be available for a full workload, but he does need to be effective when the team calls his number. Raheem Brock, an eight-year veteran who knows the defensive schemes better than most everyone on the team, will be called on to fill in for the pass-rushing specialist for the majority of the game. He’s not flashy, but Brock is more than capable of stuffing the run and making plays down the field (remember his crucial strip of Ray Rice in the first playoff game?).

With Brock adequately handling a large portion of the workload, Freeney just needs to find the strength to give Indy 15-20 all-out QB charges over the course of the game. One sack, one forced incompletion, one QB strip…it only takes one play to change the course of a game, and it’s what Freeney’s built his reputation on. He may not be the fearsome game-changer that Hoosiers have come to expect, but if he can make even the smallest of contributions — keeping the double-team off Mathis would suffice – then whatever else happens in the game can’t be blamed on the ankle. The onus will be on Peyton Manning and the offense. As it should be.

In other Colts injury news, it was revealed on Friday that rookie cornerback Jerraud Powers underwent a surgical procedure on his left foot to repair a fracture.  The surgery was an “internal fixation of a fractured foot,” and was performed three weeks ago, after the Colts defeated the Baltimore Ravens.  He missed the AFC Championship game against the Jets, but Powers declared himself at “90 percent” and said he’ll be on the field to help the Colts beat the Saints.

Whether you’re an Indianapolis sports fan who follows the Colts, or someone simply interested in all the story-lines coming out of this year’s Super Bowl, keep checking back with on a daily basis.