The Arizona Cardinals brought in Dwight Freeney to rush the passer. His contract is even set up that way. He gets paid the league minimum, but $200,000 if he gets four sacks an then $100,00 for each sack after that, capping at a total incentive of $1 million if he reaches 12.
He's going to play this Sunday, even with only a few days of work.
Head coach Bruce Arians indicated he is "involved now." "He rushes the passer, I don't think you have to teach him that," Arians joked on Wednesday when speaking to reporters.
How much will he play?
The expected number is about 15-20 snaps, something he mentioned on Tuesday on a radio spot. But he didn't rule out more. "If it's a nickel game, then he could be out there more," he said.
Essentially, he is filling the role that rookie Markus Golden had through five games.
Arizona has two types of nickel/dime packages. With Deone Bucannon playing linebacker, it looks dime because he is a sixth defensive back, but it is essentially nickel. One type keeps one outside linebacker and three defensive linemen. Josh Mauro comes in and the nose tackle comes out. Mauro is part lineman, part linebacker. It is usually meant to give more run support in nickel offenses.
The other is when they go with two down linemen (usually Calais Campbell and Frostee Rucker) and two edge rushers. Before, it was Alex Okafor and Markus Golden. Now it appears it will be Golden and Freeney, with Golden playing where Okafor did and Freeney doing what Golden did.
15-20 is about right. Golden played 118 snaps in the first five games. That is an average of 23.6 snaps per game. He got more playing time last week (45 snaps) because of the injury to Okafor. Previously, he had played anywhere between 11 and 28 snaps.
Freeney laughed when he was told what Arians said, as if rush the passer was the only thing he would do, joking that we should just tell the Steelers. He is working to get acclimated. "I've got to cram everything in three days," he said to reporters.
Getting in shape isn't an issue. "He always is" in great shape, according to Arians and Freeney noted the concept of football shape gets easy when you're older, because your body is used to it. The main concern he has is the mental side so he can play faster.
He said the Cardinals are a great fit. They were the best team and situation of the teams he was looking at. That likely factored into his decision. Plus, he has relationships on the team. Defensive coordinator James Bettcher was his position coach in 2012 with the Colts. Jerraud Powers was his teammate, as was Cory Redding.
He was glad to get the call. He wasn't sad about missing training camp, but was on the verge of retiring...sort of.
"I've been saying I'm only going to wait two weeks before I retire for like eight weeks," he said.
Get ready for No. 54 out on the field. Hopefully he can impact the game and give the team a little push in the pass rush. It has been perhaps the weakest part of the team's game so far this season.