By Tom James, CNHI News Service
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. ó Dwight Freeney continues to hold out hope, despite nursing torn ligaments in his right ankle, that heíll be able to see some playing time Sunday night against the New Orleans Saints.
Freeney was hurt in the final minutes of the Indianapolis Coltsí 30-17 AFC Championship game win over the New York Jets. He has not practiced since he initially incurred the injury and said Tuesday that he does not expect to see any work in the days leading up to Super Bowl XLIV.
ìItís safe to say that I probably wonít. Iíll probably stay off of it and just get ready,î Freeney said Tuesday during the Coltsí Media Day event at Sun Life Stadium (formerly Dolphins Stadium).
Right now, the three-time Pro Bowl selection is waiting to see if the swelling and soreness in his ankle can be relieved in the limited time available.
ìThe ankle is pretty much day-to-day. Every morning I wake up hoping (it will be better). Itís all right, I donít know if I can stretch it way out here (lifts leg). Itís just day-to-day. Hopefully toward the end of the week it starts to get better. It still has a little bit of swelling left, trying to get it out,î he said.
After posting a team-high 13.5 sacks this past season, it doesnít look too promising that heíll be in the starting lineup against the Saints. Playing at all remains a toss-up.
ìThatís going to be a decision thatís going to be later on in the week. Itís kind of early. This happened (two weeks ago), so we definitely have some recovery to go,î he said. ìItís going to be a decision made by our coaching staff come Friday, maybe Saturday, (as to) how much time Iím actually going to be playing.îù
Freeney has been known to be a quick healer. He suffered a strained groin earlier this year and was thought to be sidelined for several weeks. But he returned to the starting lineup much sooner than anybody anticipated.
But an ankle injury is much different. A speed pass rusher who may be the quickest defensive end in the NFL off the line of scrimmage, being able to move off the line of scrimmage in a hurry is his best weapon in his arsenal of moves.
Itís still not known if any attempt at playing this week could further damage the ankle. That fact alone could be the deciding factor as to whether Freeney gets in the game at all or winds up watching from the sidelines.
ìYou always factor that in, you never really know. Like I said, it is early to where as though I donít know exactly whatís going to happen. Obviously, the competitor in me says, ìNothingís going to stop me from going on that field.î That being said, you donít know how itís (the ankle) going to be come game time. Iím going to let the coaching staff and everybody collectively come up with that decision,î he said.
ìThere is some pain there. As you know, itís a torn ligament. So thereís definitely going to be pain there. Iím just going to deal with it, just trying to get the swelling down, and just trying to get back to what I do.î
Pulling out all stops ó Freeney is known around the league for the different training techniques that he employs during the offseason and whenever he incurs an injury.
So it shouldnít be too surprising that heís doing the same thing this week. With only one game left remaining in the 2009 season, and being that it is the Super Bowl, any kind of treatment that has even the slightest chance of working is going to be used.
ìEverything imaginable. Iíve thrown everything at it. All different types of techniques, Iím doing everything. Just trying to do the best thing to get that thing feeling as good as possible, so I have the best chance of playing,î he said.
ìIím doing a little, bit of everything. You name it, Iíve probably done it. Chiropractic, from oxygen chambers, to regular therapy, to ice, to everything, everything.î
Yes, even a hyperbolic chamber.
ìIíve actually had a chamber for a while, I had it for like two or three years. It helps me, it helps me a lot with blood circulation. Iíve had injuries in the past, and itís definitely helped,î he said.
Freeney left for South Florida earlier than the rest of his teammates, arriving on Friday. He lives in the Miami area during the offseason.
ìI have people out here, different chiropractic people. The main thing about me coming down here early was, if I took the flight on Monday, the swelling is still there. Coming down here on Friday, it gives me a couple extra days for the swelling to go down from the flight,î he said.
While he has not ruled out getting a pain shot before Sundayís game, that possibility remains remote.
ìI havenít really talked about that to be honest with you. It really hadnít been part of our discussion as far as ìwhat if this thing doesnít get better to where you think you can play without doing that.î I guess thatís a conversation me and the docs are going to have to have on Saturday, if itís even safe to do such a thing,î Freeney said.
ìIíve never taken a shot for an injury like that, no.î
Ironic injury ó The fact Freeney was hurt with about two minutes left in the Jets game, as he tried to avoid New York rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez, is especially hard to accept.
ìItís dispiriting, especially how it happened. Itís not like it happened in the first quarter, second quarter, something like that, it happened like with two minutes left in the fourth (quarter), trying to avoid a quarterback,î he said.
ìThe gameís over, and all of a sudden it gets rolled. Obviously, from that standpoint, itís very unfortunate. Iím working at it, and hopefully Iíll turn around and play well.îù
Freeney was reminded Tuesday of past Super Bowl performances by Los Angeles Rams defensive end Jack Youngblood (played with a broken leg) and Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Terrell Owens (ankle injury).
ìI hadnít really thought about that. I really just have been dealing with this thing literally day-to-day. I wake up every single morning thinking Iím healed. And then I wake up and take that first step. I have a little bit more work to do, and I really just try to stay positive. Thatís all I really can do, try to get back for my team and see what I can do,î he said.
ìI canít see myself on the sideline just watching my guys go out there and play. I think I have to think that way. I think that will help. Really, if I just canít run. If I canít run, then I canít play. If I know I can run, who knows. I might be able to wear a brace so I could be able to cut even more effectively.îù
If Freeney canít play against the Saints, Raheem Brock and Robert Mathis will be the Coltsí starting defensive ends. Mathis would most likely move over to play his spot.
ìOne guy goes down, another guy has to be prepared to play. Like Iíve always said, we have 53 guys on this roster and guys have to be ready no matter what happens. The craziest things can happen,î Freeney said.
ìI know we will be ready. I know we have a lot of veteran guys who have been here before, so we can help the new guys that have to step in. Weíll be all right.î