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Freeney on 2014: “I Have Unfinished Business Here”
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Dwight Freeney enters his second season as a Charger with a simple mantra.
He has unfinished business.
“I’m very fired up,” he said. “I have unfinished business here. I haven’t played a full year, so that alone sets a bar of motivation for me. I’m very excited for this season.”
Before arriving in San Diego, Freeney spent 11 seasons with the Indianapolis Colts where he recorded 378 tackles, 107.5 sacks, 44 forced fumbles, 14 passes defensed and three interceptions. His 107.5 sacks were a franchise record at the time of his departure, and he remains one of only 30 players in league history to reach the century mark. Freeney led the league with 16 sacks in 2004, but his top season came in 2005 when he was named Defensive Player of the Year with 34 tackles, 11 sacks and six forced fumbles. Just one year later, he guided the Colts to a Super Bowl title. Altogether, Freeney is a seven-time Pro Bowler, a four-time All Pro and a member of the 2000’s All Decade Team.
Understandably so, Freeney arrived in San Diego expecting to play a significant role as a pass rushing terror. It grated him that he wasn’t able to suit up as the Chargers got on a roll toward the end of the season, surging into the postseason and making a run to the Divisional Round. Regardless, Freeney stuck around the team as much as possible, aiding them from the sideline as often as he could down the stretch.
“This team really impressed me,” he said proudly. “They had a never say die attitude. They kept scraping. It may not always be pretty, but as long as you get the job done that’s all that matters. That is what I got from them and the personality of the team last year.”
Now, Freeney’s eyes light up thinking of being part of a hungry squad that he believes found its identity last year. He envisions a dangerous linebacker corp, with the likes of himself lining up opposite Melvin Ingram as well as joining the likes of Donald Butler, Manti Te’o , and Jarret Johnson. He will also continue to mentor younger players, something that was quite evident last season as many Chargers added Freeney’s famed spin move into their arsenal of weapons.
“It should be great to rejoin that group,” he said. “I’m going to meet with all the young players, including Melvin, to help their game out. I want to give them any knowledge I can to help raise their game. I want to see their careers explode. That’s what I’m here for, so I’m really excited to be back out there.”
It hasn’t been an easy road for Freeney, but he has been diligent in his rehab ever since suffering his injury on Sept. 29.
“It’s been a difficult process,” he admitted. “It’s been a long process, but I’m coming along nicely. All the trainers and doctors like where I’m at right now. I’m letting them gauge where I’m at and I’m encouraged.”
Much like Malcom Floyd expressed earlier this week, Freeney said he was touched by the fan support during his ordeal. He only suited up in a handful of games for the Chargers, yet they’ve fully embraced him, voicing their desire and excitement to see him back donning the Lightning Bolt in 2014.
“That means the world to me,” he said. “Playing this game is tough enough, but then you get the fan support behind you and that makes you push that much harder. Not that I needed the motivation, but all that stuff certainly helps.”
Freeney will continue his rehab with the team during the Chargers offseason program, which begins with Phase One on April 22.