Some might say Dwight Freeney was the enzyme to Matt Shaub’s downfall. He shared a sack of the quarterback in last year’s season opener. Shaub’s confidence fell to nothing — so too did the Texans’ team as a whole. But that’s about all Freeney did in 2013, suffering a season-ending torn quadricep injury after four games. He finished the year with half a sack and two tackles.
“It’s just tough to go through something like that,” Freeney told USA TODAY Sports after practice at Chargers Park on Monday evening. “I’m sure it’s hard regardless of what [age], but when you’ve already taken your hits and your bangs and your surgeries, and you’ve got to get another one, it’s just like ‘Oh my goodness.’ It was something else. They brought you out here for a reason and you didn’t get to really show anybody anything.”
The Chargers suffered without him. They accounted for only a 23rd ranked sack total of 35. Melvin Ingram looked as if he might develop into a strong pass rusher in his 2012 rookie season, but injured his ACL in the 2013 offseason and couldn’t play at all in the 2013 regular season. Linebacker Donald Butler is thrilled to have both players back on the field, particularly Freeney, who is already flashing the patented spin move at practice.
“That man is built – God blessed him – to rush the passer. In terms of expectations, anything less than the old Dwight Freeney would very much surprise me,” Butler said. “In my mind, I’ve got to cover for three seconds. Anything more than that, they should be getting to the quarterback.”