Freeney not expected to practice

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- For Dwight Freeney, South Florida is the perfect locale for a Super Bowl -- and a sore ankle.

The Colts' All-Pro defensive end said he's been walking around barefoot and along the sandy beach outside the team's hotel to strengthen his sprained right ankle. It may be enough to get him into Sunday's game against the New Orleans Saints.

Colts coach Jim Caldwell said Freeney is rapidly improving, despite not practicing injuring his ankle. And Freeney, in his media availability Thursday morning, said he'd see what he could do on Friday.

Earlier, Freeney said he was hopeful that walking on the beach would help his ankle heal.

"Sometimes walking is good because it keeps things fluid," Freeney said Wednesday. "You hear people say he should be in a boot or something. But sometimes it can get stiff, and you've got to get that motion back in the ankle. It gets the blood flowing, so I've been walking around barefoot and in the sand."

Try doing that in Indianapolis this time of year.

Freeney is questionable for the game after tearing a ligament in the ankle with about 2 minutes left in Indy's 30-17 AFC championship victory over the Jets.

Since then, Freeney, considered one of the league's top pass rushers, has tried almost everything -- ice, oxygen chambers, even chiropractors -- to get healthy enough to play.

"It's better than yesterday, and yesterday was better than the day before," Freeney said. "It's a slow progression right now, but that's where it is. Every morning I wake up, and it feels a little better."

Freeney isn't the only Colts starter with an injury.

Cornerback Jerraud Powers is questionable with a left foot injury. Powers said he hurt the foot in the first quarter of the divisional-round game against Baltimore. By the third quarter, he had a painful bruise on the right side of the foot, which made it difficult to play. Powers did not play in the AFC title game.

Caldwell said the rookie is improving, and Powers insisted he will play.

"It's coming along fine," Powers said. "I'm starting to cut and move on it, and there's no doubt in my mind that I'll be out there Sunday. I'm not sure about practice. I'm pretty sure the doctors will be pretty conservative about that."

If Powers does play, it would give the Colts' secondary a big boost against the league's No. 1-ranked offense. Powers started most of the season opposite Kelvin Hayden.

Another rookie, Jacob Lacey, has replaced both players when they were injured. With Powers in the lineup, Lacey would play primarily in nickel packages.

Colts left guard Ryan Lilja joined the injury list Thursday and sat out of practice because of a bad back.

The bigger question is whether the Colts will have their best defender, Freeney, on Sunday.

He finished the season with 13½ sacks and combined with Pro Bowler Robert Mathis to form one of the league's top pass-rushing combinations. All Freeney can do now is wait and see how things turn out.

"I hope to be myself," Freeney said. "Or as close to myself as I can be."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.