This summer, while researching players for my position breakdowns series, I had to look up alot of the newcomers to the roster (and there are alot of new players). The player I was most impressed with of all of the guys I had to look up was inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman. And it seems my initial excitement was correctly placed - Freeman is certainly making an impact early on in camp. He has even been spending some time with the first team defensive unit. Freeman is a player with alot of potential. Before we look at the impact he will have this season, however, we should learn a little bit about him.
Who is Jerrell Freeman?
Here is what I wrote in my position breakdown of the inside linebacker position about Freeman:
Jerrell Freeman is a 26-year old who spent the past three seasons in the Canadian Football League. In 2008 he was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Tennessee Titansbut was released before the season started. The following spring he signed with the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the CFL. In his first season, he made an excellent 25 special teams tackles, and in 2010 recorded 7 sacks. Then in 2011 he had a breakout season. Freeman led the CFL in tackles with 105 and he earned a contract with the Coltson January 16, 2012. In his CFL career, he made 144 tackles and 41 special teams tackles, along with 13 sacks and 3 interceptions. Freeman would certainly be a valuable player to have, if for no other reason than for special teams.
A star in the Canadian league, he seems to be finished playing there. His future appears to be in the National Football League, and I think it will be on the Colts. At the time, I was really excited about Freeman, but as more of a backup and special teams player. As the offseason progressed and training camp began, however, I began to think that he would contend for a starting job. And I think he may just get it.
What Impact will Jerrell Freeman have on the 2012 Colts?
Here is the key question - what will Freeman be doing this year, and how will he do at it?
First, let me say that this offseason I felt like Pat Angerer and Kavell Conner were entrenched at the inside linebacker positions. I even went so far as to say that they "will likely be the building blocks of the defense" in my position breakdown. That was July. This is August, and I feel differently now. Angerer is still guaranteed of a starting spot, and he also is likely a building block of the defense.
I just think there may be a different player starting alongside him than I originally thought.
Jerrell Freeman brings something to the defense that Conner doesn't. He was really impressive Tuesday night at the practice I was at. He would have had two sacks on Andrew Luck. On one he ran straight through the line in about one second and would have crushed Luck had he not been wearing that red jersey. On the other he came around the right end while Winston Justice was engaged blocking someone else and failed to pick up Freeman. He would have had an easy sack on Luck there as well.
Freeman will also likely be better in coverage than Conner is. It is well known that Kavell Conner is not very good in pass coverage, and while I have not seen enough of Freeman to know how good he will be, I feel safe saying he will be better than Conner.
Nothing can be said for certain until games are played. But from my first impression of him this summer, the early word out of camp and what I saw for myself Tuesday night, I have really high hopes for Jerrell Freeman. He has been working with the first team defense some recently, and I expect him to continue to see more time there.
Look out for Jerrell Freeman, Colts fans. Opposing defenses should take note, as well. Look out for Jerrell Freeman - he very well may be the Colts starting inside linebacker alongside Pat Angerer.