After 11 games, Colts compare Freeman to Ray Lewis

The rookie linebacker, according to head coach Bruce Arians, has taken on the monicker of "Baby Ray" for his strong play and leadership so far in 2012.

INDIANAPOLIS - The question posed was one simply asked about the improvement of a rookie linebacker over the course of a month.

Sixteen tackles in a game made it a fair inquiry about linebacker Jerrell Freeman, but it seems his importance to the defense was a bit underestimated.

"Really our defensive leader," said Coltshead coach Bruce Arians of Freeman. "He’s gotten game balls. He’s been a captain."

Yet the praise from fellow defensive players goes even deeper than that. To the point where Arians has to quote about a Raven.

"Its a great honor for a young player like him to jump into this veteran group of guys on defense and then call him 'Baby Ray,' said Arians.

He, of course, was referring to Ray Lewis, the Baltimore All-Pro who is arguably the best interior linebacker in a generation in the NFL. The Raven has been selected to 13 Pro Bowls and three times was named AFC Defensive Player of the Year.

Its a unique comparison considering that Freeman was four years removed from his previous chance in the NFL. Undrafted after playing at Mary Hardin-Baylor, Freeman signed a free agent contract with the Titans but didnt' make it out of training camp.

A successful run in the Canadien Football League led to a chance with the Colts in camp, one in which he's taken advantage of. Stepping in at first for the injured Pat Angerer Freeman has made 101 tackles with two sacks and an interception return for a touchdown against the Bears in Week One.

Sunday was his most successful game to date as he made a career-high 16 tackles while recording a first quarter sack in the Colts' 20-13 win over the Bills.

"I have a good team around me, a good d-line that allows me to use my speed sideline-to-sideline," said Freeman humbly of his early success. "My journey has been long but I’m here now and willing to do whatever it takes to stay on that field."

The reason Arians says that he has is much the reason Lewis has been so good in his career-his ability to make plays at a number of spots on the field.

"The last couple of ball games, they were more spread passing attacks when you run sideline-to-sideline," said Arians of Freeman. "He can run sideline-to-sideline with a running back and make the tackle."

Just like someone else whom he now shares a nickname. 


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