Freeney looks to keep it up this weekend against the Houston Texans and should be licking his chops this week. Texans QB David Carr has been sacked 40 times this season and a total of 248 times through his 5 year career. Ouch!
For Houston, left tackle Ephraim Salaam will be looking to prevent a repeat performance by Freeney. Texans head coach Gary Kubiak brought in Salaam this off-season to add some depth to the tackle position and to serve as a mentor to the two offensive tackles Houston selected on Day 1 of the 2006 NFL draft.
One play, however, changed all that.
Starting left tackle Charles "Big Nasty" Spencer suffered a season-ending leg injury in a Week 2 contest in Indianapolis which forced Salaam to go from back-up to starter in an instant.
|Texans OT Ephraim Salaam (Getty Images/Stephen Dunn)|
Though injury has forced Salaam back into a starting role this season, most NFL Scouts believe he is better suited these days to be a quality back-up and not an every game starter. Salaam has decent upper body strength, but power is not his game. For example, he often doesn't show that good initial punch you want from your left tackle. He also has a tendency to bend at the waist rather than at the knees, which affects his leverage and base and as a result causes him to get overextended at times in pass protection.
If these same problems rear their head on Sunday it's going to be a very long day for Ephraim Salaam. I doubt Gary Kubiak will want to risk many or any one-on-one situations between Freeney and Salaam. So expect a tight end to basically camp out next to Ephraim most of the afternoon.
Dwight Freeney's explosive first step and initial quickness allow him to beat most blockers to the edge. Salaam will look to counter that quickness with his long wingspan in hopes that the extra time it takes Freeney to get around those long arms will give David Carr enough time to find an open receiver.
Freeney also plays with excellent leverage; he has the ability to bull-rush and the strength to knock any OT backwards. That will be especially true this week if Salaam makes the mistake of bending at his waist and not his knees. Besides speed and power, Freeney also features a plethora of pass rush moves which make it nearly impossible to anticipate his approach. He can beat offensive tackles with his chop, rip, spin, swim moves or a combination of each.
2006 has likely been a very frustrating year for Freeney. Before last week, he had just 2.5 sacks for the year and the rumblings about his effectiveness were growing louder.
This should be another week where Freeney sees his fair share of chips and stunts, double and even triple teams. While the extra attention from a tight end will likely slow Freeney and help Salaam, it should also open plenty of one-on-one opportunities for LE Robert Mathis against rookie RT Eric Winston.
That's just another huge asset Freeney brings to this team. When opponents have to dedicate more manpower to stopping him, he creates opportunities for his teammates.