Last week, I shared a list of eight depth or backup players that I would be watching during Sunday's preseason game. This week, we'll be taking a look back at those players to see how they did, as well as highlighting several other standouts from Sunday's game.
First up is inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman, who got into the game early for Kavell Conner on passing downs, and then replaced Pat Angerer later in the game when he left with a foot injury.
With the recent news that Angerer will be missing six weeks with a fractured foot, Freeman is bound to get a longer look. He will definitely be competing for the starting spot with several others (Pagano mentioned Greg Lloyd, Moise Fokou, and Mario Harvey), but it would appear that Freeman has the inside track.
So, in the first live action glimpse the Colts' coaches were able to get of the ex-CFL player, what did they see?
As I mentioned, he started the game by subbing in for Kavell Conner on the first series, coming in on several long downs. The only play where he had a chance to make a play was a screen pass, which he read perfectly, and then was able to slip off the block to combine with Drake Nevis (who ran down the back from the line of scrimmage, great hustle and mobility) for the tackle.
On the second series, Freeman was on the field right away in Pat Angerer's position, who had gone into the locker room for a look at his foot. On first down the Colts blitzed both Freeman and Conner on the inside. The crossed on the blitz, and Freeman ended up getting double teamed. This allowed Conner to get inside untouched, and lay a big hit on Bradford.
Later on the same drive, Freeman read a running play perfectly, met him in the hole (at the line of scrimmage) and absolutely crushed him. He just stopped him in his tracks, a beautiful hit to watch. The play was also due to Ricardo Mathews receiving a triple team on his side, leaving Freeman free to meet the back in the hole.
It wasn't until late in the second half that Freeman had the action get to him again, where he ran down the running back on the opposite side of the field and knocked him out of bounds. With a little bit better instincts, he possibly could have made the play earlier, but that's just speculation. Still, it was a good job of keeping his gap responsibility, and finishing the play at the end.
In terms of coverage, Freeman didn't get tested much. Only one pass was attempted in his zone/assignment, and it was incomplete. From the TV coverage (no All-22 available for preseason games), it seemed like he did a pretty good job of staying with his guy. On the incomplete pass, Freeman seemed to have good position in his zone, but the quarterback just threw a bad pass. It's hard to credit Freeman for it, but the good news is that he didn't give up an incompletion. He also didn't have any broken or missed tackles that I caught, giving himself a pretty positive day in my book.
Overall, Freeman seemed to read the field well for a guy who's never appeared in an NFL regular season game. He looked comfortable out there next to Conner, and his slightly more reserved nature meshed well with Conner's reckless abandon for the ball carrier. That's not a knock against Conner, it's simply a difference in their style of play. Conner flies to the ball, getting involved whenever possible. Freeman is a little more reserved, and a little more patient and careful in maintaining his gap, at least, in this game. I think he would fit next to Conner quite nicely as the starting ILB.
Remember, I'll be looking at these players all week, with the following players on my list: OT George Foster, WR Kris Adams, DE Ricardo Mathews, RB Mewelde Moore, DB Korey Lindsey, CB Chris Rucker, DE Drake Nevis, RB Donald Brown, RB Vick Ballard, DE Jerry Hughes, WR Quan Cosby, LB Moise Fokou, and LB Greg Lloyd.
If there are players who you'd like to hear more about, let me know in the comment section or on Twitter: @ColtsAuth_Kyle.
Chigbo Anunoby. I thought he handled the NT position pretty well - even better than Mookie to my untrained eye. BTW no way Mookie is 330....
@naptown_ninja I'm starting to like Addison/Hughes as the backup OLBs. I thought they were a pretty good tandem against the Rams (who, admittedly have a terrible OL).
Gosh wouldn't it be nice this year that when a 1st stringer goes down, we have a second stringer who is almost as good (or maybe in this case, better)? I think that's called "depth"! :-)
Good writeup. I'm still nervous until after the Steelers game. If that goes well, then I'm good.
@NateDunlevy a friend of mine who is a former d1 MLB was raving about freeman after the game. Maybe he does know what he's talking about