HOUSTON—A Colts defense that relies on the big play just lost perhaps its biggest playmaker.
Defensive end Dwight Freeney didn't make the trip to Houston and is out for Sunday's game with the Texans, the Colts announced Saturday night.
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In a strong career in Indianapolis Freeney was enjoying one of his finest seasons in a Colts uniform, collecting a sack in the team's first eight games, and has 9.5 sacks for the season. He's also accumulated 19 tackles in the first ten games, but didn't record a stop against Baltimore last week.
Against Houston three weeks ago, Freeney was the key to the Colts holding the Texans nine points under their season average, as he picked up a sack on the opening play and then shared another with Robert Mathis as the Colts won at Lucas Oil Stadium 20-17.
Raheem Brock figures to take more snaps at the end position since the other backup at the position-Kenyuta Dawson-is also out with a knee injury. Newly signed Josh Thomas will likely see action in reserve for Freeney and Mathis.
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Not having the All-Pro defensive tackle is not only a blow to the Colts in facing a strong quarterback in Matt Schaub but also to the success with their new defense under Larry Coyer. Though its still uses the same 4-3, Cover 2 alignment, the Colts have added in an array of blitzes have tended to produce more turnovers and sacks.
The "Bend Don't Break" mantra of the unit still exists (The Colts Have Allowed 325 per game, 15th best in the league, but the Colts are executing it to the best of their ability, as they lead the NFL in points allowed with 15.7, nearly three less than a season ago.
"We thought we might want to use some of that from week to week," said Caldwell of the aggressive play. " We didnt want to necessarily assign them to one particular area on the field. We wanted to move them around a little bit and do some things a little bit more aggressively. "
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Not having Freeney, though, might put the Texans a little more at ease, at least judging from comments earlier in the week from Houston coach Gary Kubiak.
He drove me crazy when I was in Denver, too. Its not just here. Hes as fine a player as offensive coordinators try to scheme against in all my years in football," said Kubiak of Freeney. "Hes a tremendous effort player in everything that he does. I think youre looking at a Hall of Fame football player. Hes been special.