- Paul Kuharsky, ESPN Staff Writer
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Looking for one, great unexpected surprise out of the AFC South?
His name is Jerrell Freeman.
He’s played two games as an inside linebacker for the Colts, called into duty because of Pat Angerer's training camp foot injury.
The Colts have credited Freeman with 44 tackles -- 22 solo and 22 assists. He’s also got a sack, an interception for a TD, a forced fumble and a pass defensed.
“He’s exceeded all of our expectations,” coach Chuck Pagano told Indianapolis reporters this week. “That’s because of the work he’s put in and the time he’s put in. He’s playing a ton of plays and you could see at the end of the game, he didn’t have obviously the same speed and burst that he had at the start but you know 70, 72 plays into it, really pleased with Jerrell and where he’s come.
“After losing Pat and having him step up and fill in, he’s done a remarkable job and you can see his progress and you can see him getting better with each series in each game.”
Freeman represents the ends to which general manager Ryan Grigson has gone in hunting for personnel to fill out a thin roster.
The linebacker played at Mary Hardin-Baylor and was an undrafted free agent with the Titans who didn’t make the team. He spent 2009, 2010 and 2011 with the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League.
“Defense is, I don’t want to say it’s complicated but it’s one where you have to get a feel for a lot of things,” Freeman said. “When you get in there and you get enough reps, you start to get a feel for other players, feel for the call, where things are going to pop, what to do with your feet, being patient, all stuff like that. You get more comfortable as the weeks go on.”
Sunday, the Colts will seek to stop Jacksonville’s Maurice Jones-Drew. If they are effective at it, Freeman’s sure to be a central figure.
If Angerer is on track to return in the schedule the team spelled out when he fractured his foot, he’ll be back soon -- probably after the bye for a Week 5 game against Green Bay. What happens then?
Maybe Pagano will look to pair Angerer and Freeman while shrinking the role of Kavell Conner, the other inside linebacker.