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
Posted in Colts Blog
About the only thing that kicker Adam Vinatieri and linebacker Jerrell Freeman have in common outside of being Colts teammates is their brief history of playing football outside of the United States.
Vinatieri played in Amsterdam in 1995 before embarking on a 17-year NFL career filled with 24 game-winning field goals.
Freeman spent the last three seasons playing in the Canadian Football League and now is beginning his journey from a little college to the NFL.
On Sunday, Freeman got to witness first hand Vinatieri in his element.
With the game on the line and the clock winding down, Freeman watched in awe as Vinatieri delivered the first ever NFL win Freeman has experienced.
“I was just talking to him and said, ‘Man, I’ve seen it on TV and now I just saw it in real life,’ Freeman said of Vinatieri’s game-winning kick.
“He’s been in this league for about 35-40 years so I’m glad I was able to see that and I’m definitely glad he’s on my team.”
Freeman and many of his Colts teammates tease Vinatieri about his longevity in the league but none will underestimate what No. 4 means to the team.
With three field goals on Sunday, Vinatieri now has 390 career field goals and has scored a point in 132 consecutive games.
Four years ago against the Vikings, Vinatieri drilled a 47-yard game-winning field goal giving the Colts their first win of the 2008 season.
He was once again up to his old tricks on Sunday and for many of the Colts, it was a chance to see a potential Hall-of-Famer at his best.
“I didn’t have to see that today to know that I have confidence in him, knowing that he has three (Super Bowl) rings doing what he does is enough,” outside linebacker Justin Hickman said.
“He’s the ice man. He’s got ice in his veins. I knew he was going to go out there and knock it down.”
Tags: Adam Vinatieri, Jerrell Freeman, Justin Hickman
Posted in Colts Blog
There will be a new face in the middle of the Colts defense when they take the field this Sunday evening.
Now, who that will be remains to be seen.
Linebackers Jerrell Freeman and Moise Fokou both have been taking reps with the first team defense for the past two days.
Freeman played in the Canadian Football League for the past three seasons and he doesn’t take a single chance to play in the NFL for granted.
“I mean of course it’s an opportunity to show everybody what you got. I’m always proving myself coming from Division III (Mary-Hardin Baylor) to CFL. I’ll be proving myself for the rest of my career so I don’t mind that at all.”
For Fokou, it has been a road less traveled than Freeman. While he hasn’t logged the miles around North America like Freeman has, Fokou is still getting acclimated to life as an Indianapolis Colt.
Fokou and fellow linebacker Greg Lloyd were acquired from the Eagles via trade on August 2nd, and after an injury to Angerer, he finds himself in the mix of the first team defense.
“I felt pretty good out there yesterday,” Fokou said. “I know it’s only been a short time but I’ve been hitting it hard with the coaches, been picking it up pretty good. Not quite there yet, still a work in progress but definitely on the right track.”
This is Fokou’s fourth season in the NFL but he has seen this defensive scheme during his college career at Maryland.
“I’m familiar with it from college a little bit. Being back with it kind of brings back old memories,” Fokou said. “Still day-to-day work. You’ve got to work at it to get better at it. Although I’m getting better, I’m still a long way from being perfect.”
No matter who the Colts eventually decide on at middle linebacker, that person will be playing amongst experienced defenders.
Outside linebackers Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis have played a combined 19 years in the NFL and inside linebacker Kavell Conner has started 24 games the last two seasons.
It will be that experience that the new middle linebacker will lean on as the Colts make their way into the regular season.
For a player like Freeman, life in the NFL is something he has thought about since he was a young boy and now he is getting a chance to fill that opportunity.
“I’m from Texas so all we know is football, so of course you want to play in the NFL,” Freeman said. “It definitely is a dream to play here.”
Tags: Dwight Freeney, Greg Lloyd, Jerrell Freeman, kavell conner, Moise Fokou, pat angerer, robert mathis
Posted in Colts Blog