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14 for '14 Number 5: LB Jerrell Freeman

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In the 14 days leading up to the Indianapolis Colts reporting for training camp on July 23, we will count down the 14 most important players to the Colts success in 2014. Today, we look at number 5, inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman.

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

As we've gone through this series counting down the 14 most important players to the Colts in 2014, we've had some who made the list because their talent is so great they couldn't be left off and then we've also had players make the list not necessarily because of their production but rather because of the importance riding on them.  When we get to the top five of the list, both of those factors really need to be present to some extent, and that's certainly true of number five, Jerrell Freeman.

In two years in the NFL with the Colts, Freeman has started every single game and has made 271 tackles, 7.5 sacks, 8 pass deflections, 3 picks, 6 forced fumbles, and 2 fumble recoveries.  In both of his seasons with the Colts he has amassed well over 100 tackles and he has yet to miss a game.  He also finished second on the team in sacks last year with 5.5 and got good pressure on opposing quarterbacks.  Freeman is the type of player in the middle of the field and the middle of the defense that the Colts really needed, and there's hope that he'll continue to improve.  He's a good pass defender and a good pass rusher, and he gets it done against the run though there's certainly room to improve in all of those areas.  He has been incredibly important to the Colts the past two seasons and that will remain true this year as well.

Being in the middle of the defense, especially a 3-4 scheme like the Colts run that places a high emphasis on the linebackers to make the play, Freeman is precisely the type of player you want.  He racks up the tackles and is a playmaker, as evidenced by his 9 turnovers forced and 7.5 sacks recorded in the past two years.  The inside linebacker spot is actually one with quite a bit of depth for the Colts, but that doesn't negate Freeman's importance.  With Freeman, his play is what really sets him apart and makes him important, not the need of the position.  Certainly, the inside linebacker spot wouldn't look nearly as good without Freeman and that's because it's very hard to replace the production that Freeman has given the Colts in his first two years - from playing in every game to making plays and being the mainstay in the middle of the defense, Freeman is a very important part of the defense.

The Colts defense has some pieces together, such as Cory Redding, Robert Mathis, Vontae Davis, and Jerrell Freeman, and Freeman's production in the middle of the Colts defense as well as the potential that he shows gives confidence that he'll only continue to improve, and that's a great thing for the Colts.  There isn't much doubt about how important Jerrell Freeman is to the Colts defense, and because of that he appears as the fifth most important player to the team in 2014.

Check out our list counting down the 14 most important players to the Colts' success in 2014:

14. Pat McAfee, punter

13. Anthony Castonzo, left tackle

12. Greg Toler, cornerback

11. Reggie Wayne, wide receiver

10. Cory Redding, defensive lineman

9. Dwayne Allen, tight end

8.  Bjoern Werner, outside linebacker

7. Arthur Jones, defensive lineman

6. LaRon Landry, safety

5. Jerrell Freeman, inside linebacker