By Tom James
TERRE HAUTE — Dwight Freeney knows that he’ll have has hands full when the Indianapolis Colts square off against the Arizona Cardinals Sunday evening at University of Phoenix Stadium.
The Colts Pro Bowl defensive end, who has recorded a franchise career record 72.5 sacks, will be trying to put pressure on Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner. Former Notre Dame offensive tackle Mike Gandy will attempt to slow him down.
Getting past Gandy will be tough enough. Getting to Warner — who played collegiately at Northern Iowa — while he still has the ball in his hands, though, may be even trickier.
The Arizona quarterback is known for his quick release and an ability to find open receivers despite tight pass coverage.
“When you playing a guy like Kurt, his receivers and what they’ve got going on over their offensively, it’s important that you don’t take a play off. You’ve got play like, ‘I’ve got to get [to Warner],’” Freeney said recently.
“Kurt gets rids of the ball so quickly. He’s been around for awhile, so he knows where everybody is in that offense. It’ll be tough to get to him with the ball still in his hands.”
Colts coach Jim Caldwell, Indianapolis’ former quarterbacks coach, appreciates what Warner does when he’s on the field.
“He’s amazing. He’s a guy that understands what he’s facing. He knows where to go with the ball and he can get it there on time quickly. Any weaknesses that you show, or you void a zone, he knows his system well enough and can get the ball out and get it into the hands of a couple guys that can deal with it,” Caldwell said.
“But he’s uncanny in that regard. And maybe one of the most accurate guys playing in the game today. Talented guy. He mixes it up. He gets them in and out of [pass] protections, to handle different problems that he perceives. [He] takes advantage of situations and doesn’t take him long to recognize them.”
• Injury list — Sitting out Thursday’s practice were middle linebacker Gary Brackett (knee), defensive end Dwight Freeney (back), cornerback Kelvin Hayden (hamstring), wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez (knee), and safety Bob Sanders (knee).
Weakside linebacker Clint Session (ankle) returned to practice.