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Relentless energy drives Colts' Freeman to success

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Linebacker epitomizes Indy's defensive philosophy of speed, aggression

Tuesday, October 8, 2013 - 5:29 pm

INDIANAPOLIS – Jerrell Freeman's two most impressive tackles came near the end of a slugfest day at the office, making them even more impressive.

Freeman had been chasing and pursuing – and sometimes catching and hitting – the Seattle Seahawks all afternoon Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium. They're not easy to catch, with elusive quarterback Russell Wilson and cat-quick running back Marshawn Lynch.

Freeman might have had a reason to be tired. But in his mind, it wouldn't have been a good reason. So he summoned an extra burst and caught both Wilson and fleet wide receiver Golden Tate to prevent first downs in a critical series late in the Colts' 34-28 win over the Seahawks.

“You better be a professional and you better find that energy wherever you can,” Freeman said. “That's just me. I'm a runner. I'll run all day. In offseason workouts and working with coaches, I'm working and running. I'm a runner.”

Freeman's wheels might not be the first asset people notice when they analyze the Colts linebacker. He's a reliable tackler who rarely lets running backs escape his grip. He can rush the passer and drop into pass coverage.

Through five games, Freeman has 43 tackles – tied for 10th in the NFL – with three sacks and two forced fumbles. He had 13 tackles against the Seahawks.

Seattle coach Pete Carroll wondered if Freeman deserves a fine for his final hit on Wilson when Wilson threw his last pass Sunday. Maybe he'll be fined. No question future opposing quarterbacks will be on alert.

Freeman posted 145 tackles a year ago after joining the Colts. In his second season with the team, the former Canadian Football League player continues to prove he's a presence.

He doesn't go away in the fourth quarter. In fact, he might grow stronger as games progress.

“It's always good to be able to play your last play just like your first play,” Freeman said. “That's a great thing to have. It's a testament to offseason workouts and training. You have to find it within yourself and sometimes you have to dig even deeper.”

Digging deep late in games has emerged as one of the Colts players' common traits, which is one reason Freeman excels in the system.

The other reason is that Freeman's physical approach fits what the Colts seek in a defender: aggression and consistency.

His ability to play sideline to sideline is another plus, safety Antoine Bethea said.

“He's very athletic,” Bethea said. “He can do everything. He's good in the run game. He's good in the pass game as well. There's no liability when you speak of Jerrell. Last year, just coming from the CFL, he hopped onto the scene and had a great year. …He's one of the leaders on the defense. I think he'll be here for a long time.”

Freeman's attitude fits the mold coach Chuck Pagano and defensive coordinator Greg Manusky have been seeking. He plays with the same degree of intensity regardless of the score.

The Colts defense seemed to gain momentum as the Seattle game progressed. They gave up 26 points (two were scored on the blocked-punt safety) but made key stops in the fourth quarter.

“We just want to go out and play each and every play, get off the field and get the offense the ball any way we can,” Freeman said. “Just getting better each and every week is definitely a goal of ours. (Beating Seattle) was a big win, but we've got a lot more to go. It's a long season.”