Simple truth of life in the NFL: Injuries can cost a player his job.
Any coach who tells you otherwise is lying to you. Any player who says an injury should never cost him is job is a delusional player. Injuries, and the ability to withstand or recover quickly from them, are as important a part of playing football as someone's 40 time or how much they weigh. Chronically injured players are useless to the cause, which is winning.
Thus, it should come as no surprise to anyone that Jerrell Freeman has, effectively, taken Pat Angerer's job from him.
Angerer, a third-year player who led the Colts in tackles last season, made his 2012 debut Sunday in the Colts 17-13 win over the Browns. He'd broken his foot in training camp, and during his recovery he suffered an undisclosed set back. He was slated to return after the bye week. Week 7 was when he actually did return, and it's not like he was slotted right back in at his usual inside linebacker spot.
The Colts defense was on the field for 60 plays. For 58 of those plays, Jerrell Freeman was on the field. Angerer played just 22 plays. Like Freeman, he ran on special teams as well.
Meanwhile, the other "starting" inside linebacker, Kavell Conner, saw only 16 plays. Moise Fokou, who plays both inside and outside backer positions, saw 14.
22 + 16 + 14 = 52. I iz math geniuz!
This suggests that Colts defensive coordinator Greg Manusky is more interested in keeping Freeman on the field than he is Angerer, Conner, or Fokou. In fact, it looks as if all three (Angerer, Conner, and Fokou) are being used in a rotation, which makes sense. Still, prior to the start of this season, the Colts and local media were all raving at how Pat Angerer was going to thrive in the Colts new hybrid 3-4 defense. Maybe he will.
However, right now, he better hope for an injury to Freeman, because there doesn't seem to be any way Angerer will see more playing time unless that happens. Freeman played outstanding Sunday against the Browns, notching 6 tackles, including an impressive stop in the second quarter on 3rd-and-one from the Cleveland 35, forcing the Browns to punt. Freeman helped limit Cleveland's running game (which obliterated the Colts last season) to 55 yards and a 3.2 yards-per-carry average.
For Angerer, it was a nice game as well, especially for someone who has missed nearly half the season because of injury. Angerer had two QB hits and three combined tackles.
It is somewhat amazing that, prior to the start of the season, the inside linebacker position was considered an area of weakness. With Freeman, Angerer, Conner, and Fokou, the Colts have four quality players. For me, the one with the most trade potential is Angerer. I like him as a player, but the Colts have several weak areas that need addressing, like wide receiver, offensive line, and safety. Lots of team could be interested in Angerer at the deadline, which follows next week (Week 8). It is within the Colts interest to look into trade possibilities for the former Iowa standout.