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Chargers Sound Off on Addition of Dwight Freeney

Posted May 20, 2013

New San Diego Charger Dwight Freeney was at the forefront of the conversation following Monday's OTA session.

Dwight Freeney was not at Chargers Park on Monday.

But that doesn’t mean the newest Charger wasn’t on everyone’s mind when the team reconvened to continue the OTA program.

Photo Gallery: Dwight Freeney in action | More Photos

“It’s awesome to have him,” said Philip Rivers, who knows firsthand how disruptive Freeney can be. “I’ve competed against the guy numerous times and I’ve followed his career.  He has almost 108 sacks, so it will be a great addition for us.  He’s a veteran and a game changer as far as the types of plays he makes.”

The team announced they reached a two-year agreement with one of the top pass rushers in NFL history early Saturday morning.  On Monday, his signing became official.  Over 11 years with the Indianapolis Colts, Freeney notched 378 tackles, 107.5 sacks, 44 forced fumbles, 14 passes defensed and three interceptions.  He was the 2005 Defensive Player of the Year, and overall, is a seven-time Pro Bowler and three-time First Team All Pro player. Freeney is also a member of the 2000’s All Decade Team.

Needless to say it’s easy to see why the Chargers are excited to have him.

“(He’s an) experienced veteran that’s one of the greatest pass rushers of all time,” said Head Coach Mike McCoy. “(He brings) leadership.  He had a great visit with us.  The coaches and players that were around him the couple days he was here did a phenomenal job of talking up the way we’re doing things around here, the way the team’s going to be run on a day to day basis, the way we’re going to practice and the style of defense we want to play.  So they deserve a lot of credit for helping him get here.”

One of those men is Defensive Coordinator John Pagano, who did a complete and thorough scouting of Freeney before the Chargers agreed to terms with him.

“Just watching him over the years, and how he’s progressed as a great player in this league, it’s something that we’re real excited about,” he said.  “I can’t wait to get him here and get him going in this system….I watched all 746 plays that he played last year from the first to the last.  Seeing the things that he did early in the year and late in the year is a great testament to his training regimen and how he had to prepare.  (For) a guy coming off a high ankle sprain and the way he finished, his pressures at the quarterback were really nice.”

While the addition of Freeney has been universally hailed around the league, if there is one concern it is how he will perform in the 3-4 defense as he has had his best years in a 4-3 formation.  According to Pagano, that isn’t any worry at all for the Chargers.

“The difference between the 3-4 and the 4-3 is so minimal.  He’s such a great player, I think you make him fit wherever he can fit in. The things that he does and what he’s done over the years, we’re so multiple in our fronts and different alignments that it gives us the ability now to do a lot more things that we as a defensive unit want to do. So I think from that standpoint it gives us the ability to be even more multiple now, and it gives us a guy that can put pressure off the edge.”

While Rivers and the coaching staff are certainly pleased to add Freeney, his addition was the talk of the entire defense that looks forward to adding him into the fold.

“When I found out I was like ‘Oh come on, is this really happening?’” said Corey Liuget. “He’s a beast and a guy that gets out there every day.  I’m going to feed off of him and he’s going to feed off of me. I’m going to be able to get some sacks simply because he’s on the field. It’s going to be a great overall experience being with him this year.”

Donald Butler, who will line up alongside Freeney at linebacker, was equally excited about the addition of the seven-time Pro Bowler.

“Personally, it’s going to be very helpful having him here,” he said. “A guy like that, who has been doing it for many, many years, both the young guys and veterans can learn a lot from him.  Plus it’s always good to add another veteran leader out there.”

Finally, Eric Weddle, an unquestioned leader of the Bolts defense, weighed in on the addition and summed up the entire sentiment of the unit.

“It feels good to have him,” said Weddle.  “Obviously adding someone of his stature and talent is good for our defense.  Losing Melvin (Ingram) really hurt us, and we’re hoping him a speedy recovery, but we needed some depth and another player. You can’t really go wrong bringing in someone of (Freeney’s) caliber.  Bringing him in will bolster the defense and will help us a lot.”

As noted earlier, Freeney won’t be in attendance this week due to prior commitments. But when he does arrive, all expect him to play a major role for the Chargers this season.  Based upon his storied career to date, there’s little reason to think otherwise.

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