Dwight Freeney said he wakes up every morning with one thought in his mind. “I’m healed!” he says to himself. But then he swings his legs off the bed and puts that sprained ankle on the floor and the reality wakes him up like a blaring alarm clock. With no snooze button.
“I take that first step and I say ‘Alright, I’ve got a little more work to do,’” the Colts defensive end said at Tuesday’s Media Day for Super Bowl XLIV. “I try to stay positive. It’s all I really can do. Try to get back for my team and see what I can do.”
He did say he's unlikely to practice at all this week. But as for the actual game, he classified himself as day-to-day. "It’s kind of early to call it right now."
Freeney suffered a third-degree sprain in his ankle against the Jets in the AFC Championship game and spent most of the following week in a protective boot. He also flew to Miami on Friday, a few days ahead of the rest of the team which arrived on Monday. He said that was so he could get a head start on reducing the swelling that occurs from air travel.
The big question is whether Freeney will be able to play or not on Sunday against the Saints. He said it’s too early to tell.
“That’s going to be a decision that’s going to be made later on in the week,” he said. “It’s kind of early. This just happened last week. We definitely have some cover to go and it’s going to really be a decision by the coaching staff come Friday, maybe Saturday, how much time I’ll actually be playing.”
“The competitor in me says ain’t nothing going to stop me from being out on that field,” he added. “But that being said, you don’t know what it’s going to be come gametime. I’m going to let the coaching staff and everybody collectively come up with it.”
Freeney said he’s experiencing pain in the ankle besides the swelling and is “throwing everything at it” in terms of treatments. “I’m just trying to find the best thing to get that thing feeling as good as possible so I have a chance to play,” he said. “You name it, I’ve probably done it.”
Later in the week, he might even have to take an injection in the area to help him play, something he said he’s never had to do for an injury like this.
“I have yet to really talk about that,” he said. “It hasn’t been part of our discussion as far as what if this thing doesn’t get better. I guess that’s a conversation me and the doctors are going to have to have on Saturday, if it’s even safe to do such a thing.”
And if Freeney can’t play? It will be frustrating, but, he said, not hopeless for his team.
“In years past it would have been a little bit different because we did so much stuff with the front four getting pressure on the quarterback,” he said. “Now we bring a lot more pressure, a lot more blitzes, and we have a better defense than we’ve had in the past. I think if it happens I do not play, I think we’ll still be all right.”
Freeney is usually hitting quarterbacks, which is what makes this ankle injury all the more upsetting to him.
“It’s very discouraging, especially how it happened,” he said. “It wasn’t like it happened in the first or second quarter, something like that. It happened with two minutes left in the fourth, trying to avoid a quarterback. The game’s over and all of a sudden it gets rolled. From that standpoint it’s very unfortunate.”
He was also asked about how it feels to be the biggest storyline during Super Bowl week. It started over the weekend when reports first came out that he had torn ligaments in his ankle and had been sent to Miami early.
“I try to stay away from all that TV stuff, but I got like 80 text messages telling me ‘You’re all over the TV about the ankle, are you going to be ready to play?’” Freeney said. “I’m like, listen, I’m going to take it day by day, I don’t know.”
It was clear that Freeney’s injury has garnered a lot of attention as his podium at Media Day was one of the most crowded with reporters and questions.
“I know,” he said, craning his neck to steal a glance across the area at another crowded but less-bustling area. “I don’t know how Peyton feels about that.”