Lacking depth, the San Diego Chargers today said that outside linebacker Dwight Freeney will play every down as opposed to only being on the field as a pass rush specialist.
Freeney has made a career off of his pass rushing ability, though was taken off the field regularly in running situations not only to preserve his gas tank, but his run stopping ability wasn’t ever anything to write home about.
That’s not something Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano is concerned with, suggesting that not only will Freeney play every down, but he’s a difference maker on defense:
“It’s been unbelievable. He’s been unbelievable,” Pagano told me. “How he comes to work, practice, his effort, his love and passion of the game. He’s been a pro’s pro. … You can tell why he’s been one of the best pass-rushers over the last 10 years.” Pagano raved about Freeney’s film study habits, how he’ll revisit his work against an endless variety of looks. As far as how the Chargers will use him, Pagano said it won’t be just as a pass-rush specialist. “He’s going to be an every-down guy for us,” Pagano said. “Need him on first, second, third down. He’s going to play all downs. If you spot guys here and there, they never get into the defense. They never get the defense. They don’t understand the whole process of the defensive calls. That’s the mindset he has. Otherwise, you never learn the why. He is a why guy.”
Freeney was certainly a difference maker with the Colts, but that was a few years and a few injuries ago.
How effective he’ll be in San Diego remains to be seen.