Freeney to begin preseason on PUP list; no timetable for Sanders

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. -- Indianapolis Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney has pleaded his case to coach Tony Dungy, but it hasn't altered the timetable for his return to full speed from a Lisfranc injury in his left foot that required surgery in November.

Freeney expects to be on the physically unable to perform list for about three weeks and hopes to play in the team's fourth or fifth preseason game, he said as he reported to Colts training camp at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.

The delay isn't ideal for him, but he said he'll stick with and trust the team's game plan for him. An upbeat Freeney said it's the most painful injury he's ever dealt with.

Once he's set free to go full speed, he said he has no doubts that he will return to Pro Bowl form.

"I talked to the doctors, they say everything structurally is fine. It's just a question of loosening everything up, which is going to take repetition and me getting out there," he said. "I'm confident at some point I'll be fine.

"Mentally that's a big part, knowing that I can do the same things," he said. "Still run around the corner, spinning, doing the things I do. … I can still do everything I could do; the question is, how sore is it after the fact?"

"The issue with Dwight is how far along is he in his conditioning," said team president Bill Polian.

He said the team is wary of activating Freeney too soon and then seeing him regress.

Freeney has talked to other players who've dealt with similar injuries and expects things to be up and down, with the foot feeling great some games and being sore in others.

Safety Bob Sanders, who had shoulder surgery after the season ended, said he's not sure about his timetable to return.

"Within the next week or so I'll be able to move around and do a lot more and hopefully participate out here before we end it," he said. "But I'm not exactly sure, it's something we still have to cover."

Paul Kuharsky covers the NFL for ESPN.com.