It's all come to this. The careful way Caldwell has managed player health all year. The decision to begin resting players in week 16. The day-by-day fingernail biting by yours truly waiting for the practice injury report to be released. And now the weeks that matter most.
I honestly wasn't planning to post anything until I learned this morning that not only is Freeney banged up (which we all witnessed), but there are multiple players to be concerned about according to Bill Polian's weekly radio address. Here's what we know:
Injuries on the Defense:
Dwight Freeney: ankle. John Clayton reported this morning on ESPN38573 that not only does Freeney have an ankle injury, but that it's a serious injury. He clarified that it wasn't the dreaded high ankle sprain, but that if the game were being played on Sunday, he (Freeney) almost certainly would not play in it. Bill Polian has commented that despite Freeney's injury, he expects him to play in the Super Bowl. Freeney is getting treatment, and is rumored to sleep in a hyperbaric chamber. He also heals extremely fast (see: torn quad), but depending on the severity, I don't expect to see him at 100% for the game. I could see them keeping him on a pitch count for the first half and being less conservative in the second half, especially if we're having difficulty containing Brees - think how we managed Freeney against the Jags in Week 15, but playing a step up from that. Let's hope those painkillers are strong.
Jerraud Powers: foot. I have been assuming - apparently incorrectly - that Powers would be fine for the Super Bowl. I may have trusted his Tweets a bit too much. Polian also commented that Powers is still being treated and his status is uncertain for the game.
“He's progressing,” Polian said. “It's the rate of progress, is what we're going to monitor.”
JPeezy, my man, please sit next to Freeney in meetings this week so those healing powers rub off!
Folks, I don't want to be Chicken Little here, but if 3 defensive starters - defensive starters who are there for passing downs - are in even a mildly banged up condition against the Saints... well, to quote SpazMo, "I have a terrible feeling about this." Is it too much to ask to implore the Saints to try running it a bit more? (Inner voice: did I really just SAY that?!?!)
Injuries on the Offense:
Reggie Wayne: knee. Apparently Reggie has experienced swelling in his knee.
Donald Brown: toe. Polian mentioned Donald has "a toe issue."
For both Reggie and Donald, the expectation is that they will miss a bit of practice but that they will play in the Super Bowl.
UPDATE: According to FootballGuys.com, Phil Richards of the Indy Star is reporting that each of the above players is expected to play. I hope they're right!