Dwight Freeney to be every-down player for Chargers

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODA

Dwight Freeney is expected to see an expanded role with the Chargers this season after struggling in his final years with the Colts.

The San Diego Chargers may not have been 100 percent sure what they were getting when they signed veteran defensive end Dwight Freeney to a two-year contract considering the 33-year-old's production had been in steady decline over his last four seasons with the Indianapolis Colts. Freeney has apparently looked like a different player since joining the Chargers, however.

Defensive coordinator John Pagano told NFL.com's Ian Rapoport that the team is planning on using Freeney in an every-down role.

"He's going to be an every-down guy for us," Pagano said. "Need him on first, second, third down. He's going to play all downs. If you spot guys here and there, they never get into the defense. They never get the defense. They don't understand the whole process of the defensive calls. That's the mindset he has. Otherwise, you never learn the why. He is a why guy."

Pagano raved about Freeney's work ethic, particularly in film study. That work ethic is exactly why the Chargers need to put Freeney on the field more often, according to Pagano, who described Freeney as a "pro's pro."

When Freeney was initially signed, he was considered as a potential stop-gap for the absence of outside linebacker Melvin Ingram, who is currently working his way back from a torn ACL. That means Freeney will be standing up from the line of scrimmage at times, which is a role he struggled with last year with the Colts as he recorded just five sacks in 14 games.

If Pagano's words are any indication, however, Chargers fans should be very excited about their veteran addition.

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