Colts DE Dwight Freeney Enjoying Being Able to Prepare for 2009 season
INDIANAPOLIS – In a very real sense, Dwight Freeney said one of his major goals of the 2009 offseason already has been accomplished.
Namely, that he is having an offseason.
Freeney, the Colts' four-time Pro Bowl defensive end, didn't get an offseason last year – certainly not the one he wanted, anyway. He spent that offseason rehabilitating a foot injury that cost him the last seven games of the 2007 regular season.
Now, though, is different.
Now, Freeney is healthy. He is participating in the Colts' 2009 organized team activities.
And for Freeney, that means there's a whole lot good going on.
"That was my big thing for this year, to be able to roll into the season without having a surgery," Freeney said this week during the Colts' 2009 OTA sessions, which are scheduled to continue through mid-June at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.
"I can get all the pieces and all the body parts right, so I can be fine this year. It's a lot different from last year where I was trying to put something together for the year."
How much difference has a year made for Freeney?
The Colts' first-round selection in the 2002 NFL Draft, Freeney this time last season was more than two months from participating in practice on a full-time basis.
He spent that offseason rehabilitating, which he said is drastically different than practicing and preparing for a season.
This season, time is spent on the field, and not worrying as much about his foot.
"It feels pretty good," he said. "It's achy at times. I don't know if it's ever going to feel perfectly fine. When I wake up in the morning, I might feel a little ache but it's going to be pretty good."
The season is different in another sense for Freeney – and for the rest of the Colts' defense as well.
Shortly after Jim Caldwell succeeded Tony Dungy as head coach, Caldwell hired Larry Coyer to replace longtime coordinator Ron Meeks.
Coyer, who spent the last two seasons assisting in Tampa Bay – which at the time ran a similar defensive scheme to that of the Colts – spent four seasons before that as the defensive coordinator in Denver. He's a coordinator with a diverse background, and Freeney was asked this week if the Colts' defense is a new system or case of the old system undergoing tweaking.
"I think it's a little bit of both," Freeney said. "He (Coyer) definitely has new stuff; some very interesting things that help out a lot and are a lot different from last year. We also have a lot that is the same and I think, sometimes, change is a good thing. So, we'll see what happens.
Coyer's presence makes this season's OTAs particularly imant, Freeney said.
"I think it's very important for obvious reasons," Freeney said. "We're learning a new style, but just to have the whole group together and trying to learn this thing together from the beginning. We get used to each other, he (defensive coordinator, Larry Coyer) can get used to me, and I can get used to him and the way he likes to coach."
Freeney, the Colts' all-time sacks leader with 70.5 in seven seasons, said while there may be more offseason change this year than is normal for the team, he said that's not necessarily bad.
"Every year going into a new year there is always change," Freeney said. "Even with the same coordinator there is going to be change, because you always have to improve from the year before. Obviously, we have a new coordinator this year and there's probably a little bit more change than what we're used too, but it might be a good thing.
"The same pieces are out there doing what we do. . . . I like a lot of the changes. We'll see what happens. It's easy to say that now, but I have confidence that what we have now will work."