Tuesday, February 02, 2010
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Rain, Freeney and media day at Super Bowl

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[February 02, 2010]  FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) -- Here's something new: Super Bowl week minus the hype.

For one day, at least, nothing was getting blown out of proportion. Oh, sure, the weather was nasty enough Monday to cause some logistical switches for the New Orleans Saints. And the Colts wondered hopefully about wet omens -- the clouds opened up for the only time during a Super Bowl when Indianapolis won in Miami three years ago.


ItHardware was all sure to change on media day, that annual event for which frenzy, zoo and circus are among the milder descriptions. Despite ominous forecasts that forced the NFL to move the proceedings indoors at Sun Life Stadium, the potential for wackiness -- a "journalist" dressed as a bride looking for a quarterback mate, perhaps -- wasn't diminished.

One guy who can get a bit wacky is Peyton Manning, at least when he's pitching a product instead of a pigskin. Manning was one of the Colts' Pro Bowl players who waited in South Florida for the rest of the team to arrive Monday.


"I got to fly on a private plane with six of my best friends and teammates," he said. "We had Ruth's Chris Steak House food on the plane, took a private escape down to Miami, shook a few hands, did a wave, did one interview and made $45,000. I can think of some worse things to put yourself through."

Like what Colts All-Pro defensive end Dwight Freeney is experiencing.

Freeney sprained his right ankle in the AFC title game against the Jets and missed all four practices last week. Freeney also came to the Miami area early, but not to show off his skills in the all-star game. He's undergoing extensive treatment with the hope he will heal enough to play on Sunday.

"Obviously, Dwight Freeney is a great player. Obviously, we would love for him not to play in the game," New Orleans running back Reggie Bush said. "But we're going to prepare like he's playing in the game. We're going to continue to chip block. We're going to continue to do whatever we can to keep the pressure off (Drew Brees)."

Freeney had 13 1/2 sacks this season, tied for third in the NFL. But the Colts (16-2) have only one sack altogether in two playoffs wins. Getting to Brees is as critical to Indy as, well, getting to Manning is for New Orleans (15-3).

"Dwight is playing and he will be 100 percent by the game," linebacker Gary Brackett said playfully, poking fun at the intrigue surrounding Freeney's injury.

"Honestly, I have no clue. But if anybody can come back from an injury, it's Dwight. He's had weird things all season. People said he would miss 10 weeks and then he plays in seven days."

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Few Super Bowls have matched such explosive offenses; the Saints led the league with 510 points and the Colts scored 416. Each defense will have enough of a challenge without showers straight through the weekend. More wetness could make the footing treacherous, yet another advantage for the team with the ball.

So having Freeney in the lineup might be a key to any success Indy has against Brees, Bush, Marques Colston and Co.

The Colts' defense also hasn't faced anything similar to the Saints in these playoffs. Baltimore's passing offense was pedestrian, and the Jets' wasn't much better.


But New Orleans?

"One of the big knocks on our defense has been that we can't stop the run," Brackett said. "Traditionally guys pound us, but I think if you've seen this playoffs, we stopped two very aggressive running teams with Baltimore and the Jets. ... The New Orleans Saints, they pose a different threat. They pass the football and are a very high-scoring offense, very high-powered.

"I think with all that, at the end, there's always going to be 11 guys on the field, so that's one thing you can count on. We just have to adjust accordingly. A lot of guys we just have to treat as receivers rather than driving yourself crazy trying to figure out what guys are out there on the field. Just figure there's going to be a lot of tall, fast guys running around."

[Associated Press; By BARRY WILNER]

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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