The League

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Colts' Caldwell says Freeney is 'healing'

Indianapolis Colts Coach Jim Caldwell called Dwight Freeney's playing status day-to-day, saying Monday that the defensive end is "healing" from the ankle sprain he suffered late in the AFC championship game.

But Caldwell said it remains possible that the injury will keep Freeney from playing in Sunday's Super Bowl against the New Orleans Saints.

"He hasn't been practicing," Caldwell said at a news conference soon after the Colts' arrival at the Fort Lauderdale airport. "If he's not practicing, we're preparing as if he's not going to play. And then if he gets in there, we'll do something."

Saints surprised

In South Florida, the Saints were greeted by an unusual welcoming committee. Awaiting them at the front of the team hotel were the team's Pro Bowlers and Coach Sean Payton -- dressed as bellhops. The Pro Bowlers, including quarterback Drew Brees, arrived in town a day earlier and Payton rushed ahead of his team.

A steady afternoon rain moved the Saints' afternoon practice from the University of Miami to the Dolphins' indoor facility, about 30 miles away.

Uncapped year likely

Commissioner Roger Goodell told NFL Network "it's looking virtually certain" that next season will be played without a salary cap.

Goodell, in an interview in Fort Lauderdale, said "we're all frustrated" with the lack of progress in labor negotiations between the league and the NFL Players Association.

People on both sides of the negotiations have said for months they believed that the sport was headed toward a season without a salary cap, and now Goodell is making the same concession publicly.

Pro Bowl ratings up

ESPN's telecast on Sunday night was the most-watched Pro Bowl in 10 years, the network announced.

The game drew about 12.3 million viewers, the most since the 2000 game on ABC. Viewership was up 40 percent from the 8.8 million who watched last year on NBC. . . .

Janet Napolitano toured Super Bowl facilities and the accompanying operations.

"I don't think we've ever had that, where we've had a secretary of homeland security come on site," said Milt Ahlerich, the NFL's vice president of security. . . .

The Chicago Bears hired Mike Martz as offensive coordinator.

-- Mark Maske and Rick Maese

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