Even Chuck Pagano didn’t see this coming.
When linebacker Pat Angerer suffered a foot injury following the preseason opener against the Rams, the names behind him weren’t well known to Colts fans.
Jerrell Freeman was at the top of the list.
A product of Mary Hardin-Baylor, Freeman is fulfilling a lifelong NFL dream after three seasons in the Canadian Football League.
“Every time we get done, I look at the stat sheet and see 13 tackles again. I say, ‘Where’s this kid from again?’ head coach Chuck Pagano said on his Monday night radio show. “Only (general manager) Ryan Grigson can find those types of guys.
Grigson and his scouting staff might have found him but now it’s Freeman doing his own finding of NFL running backs.
“Jerrell is a guy that’s come in and we talked about next man up and opportunity and doing such a great job of studying so when that opportunity does show up, you can go in and be productive,” Pagano said. “He’s played a ton of plays in these first two ball games. His hard work and preparation is showing up on the field.”
Freeman has started the first two regular season games for Angerer.
With Angerer sidelined, the Colts are not only missing their leading tackler from 2011 but also the man in charge for making the calls for the defense.
Adding in his three starts in the preseason, Freeman says as the weeks go by, he is continuing to get more comfortable in the middle of the Colts hybrid 3-4 defense.
“I don’t want to say (the defense) is complicated but it’s one where you have to get a feel for a lot of things,” Freeman said. “When you get in there and you get enough reps, you start to get a feel for other players, feel for the call, where things are going to pop, what to do with your feet, being patient, all stuff like that.”
Freeman’s 18 tackles against the Vikings on Sunday led the team and he once again had a knack for making the big play.
To go along with his interception return for a touchdown in Week 1, Freeman’s forced fumble midway through the second quarter on Sunday ignited the Colts offense.
Pagano said playing time for Freeman will be a good problem to have when Angerer returns from a foot injury as thanks to the former CFL player, the Colts are beginning to create some quality depth in their linebacker corps.
“He’s exceeded all of our expectations,” Pagano said of Freeman. “That’s because of the work he’s put in and the time he’s put in. After losing Pat and having him step up and fill in, he’s done a remarkable job and you can see his progress and you can see him getting better with each series in each game.”
Tags: chuck pagano, Jerrell Freeman, pat angerer
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