Colts making plans if Freeney can't play in Super Bowl
MIAMI (AFP) – While the Indianapolis Colts are preparing to play the Super Bowl without Dwight Freeney, the New Orleans Saints are planning on seeing the injured defensive end in Sunday’s championship showdown.
Both clubs arrived in rain on Monday to begin the final week of preparations for Super Bowl 44 with Freeney a focus of attention due to a right ankle sprain or ligament tear suffered in last month’s playoff in over the New York Jets.
Star pass rusher Freeney, whose 13.5 sacks was tied for third in the National Football League, is listed as questionable and did not practice last week. For Colts coach Jim Caldwell, that means a change in plans.
“He hasn’t been practising. Obviously we have been preparing as if he won’t be playing,” Caldwell said.
Freeney’s absence could allow the Saints to focus more attention on their offensive schemes and blocking patterns without having to worry about a major disruptive threat.
“We’re approaching it as if Dwight Freeney is going to be out on the field,” Saints blocker Jahri Evans said. “He’s a guy they want out there and it’s the Super Bowl. I think he’s going to play.”
New Orleans could take advantage of a slowed Freeney, however.
“It’s not like we’re going to go out there and try to land on his ankle or anything,” Evans said. “Obviously it’s probably going to slow him down a little bit. That’s in our favor.”
But Freeney might yet display his spinning moves against Saints blockers Sunday.
“I will be shocked if he doesn’t play,” Colts cornerback Kelvin Hayden said. “He’s a guy who can play through injuries. Yes you do need both of your wheels but I’m confident he will be out there and be effective.”
Raheem Brock, an eighth-year NFL veteran who had 41 tackles and 3.5 sacks this season, would likely move into a starting role if Freeney cannot play.
“Raheem would be a big part of that,” Caldwell said.
Saints safety Darren Sharper sees Freeney as a tough man to replace.
“They have guys that can step up,” Sharper said. “It’s tough to fill a void of guy like Dwight Freeney because he’s such a dynamic player. he does so much. his presence for that team impacts them a lot.”
Without having to devote extra manpower to stopping the elusive defensive end, Saints quarterback Drew Brees will have more time and weapons for an offensive side that was already the NFL’s most productive point producers.
“I feel like they are coming into this game with all of their ammo,” Brees said. “They will do a lot of the same things.”
Colts quarterback Peyton Manning wants to see Freeney on the field, not the sidelines.
“I’m very hopeful he will play,” Manning said. “He has special characteristics. I’m counting on those this week.”
But even if Freeney can’t play, Manning remains confident.
“I feel fortunate to have a lot of guys on my team you would want to go into battle with,” Manning said.
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