Dwight Freeney said he was a week away from retiring from the NFL when Arizona coach Bruce Arians called to offer him a job.

Freeney said he was on an airplane about to take off.

"The door was closing," he said. "The flight attendants were telling everyone to put away their cellphones. I am looking at my phone seeing that it is B.A. I am telling her to hold on. She is telling me to get off the phone.

"It was great when he called me. I said, 'Yeah, I am ready to get off the couch, let's go man,' and it has been a ride ever since."

Since joining the Cardinals in mid-October, Freeney has shown he still can get to the quarterback.

The 35-year-old outside linebacker, in his 14th NFL season, has nine sacks in his 12 games with the team, including one last week in Arizona's 26-20 overtime playoff victory over Green Bay.

It was Freeney's 10th postseason sack. Only seven players in NFL history have more. Without him, the Cardinals' pass rush off the edge isn't much, so he's a critical component to the Cardinals' hopes of beating Carolina on Sunday in the NFC Championship Game in what will be Freeney's 18th postseason game.

Freeney signed for the veteran's minimum of $870,000 with incentives. He got an additional $200,000 when he reached four sacks and another $100,000 for each sack thereafter up to $1 million. So he is at $700,000 and counting.

"As a player, you always have to think the best of yourself," Freeney said. "I don't care, I could be 90 years old and think that I can come out here and have a three-sack game. … I always knew I could still play."


•Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart (foot injury) returned to practice along with former Vikings defensive end Jared Allen, who was diagnosed earlier this week with a broken bone in his foot.

•Chiefs coach Andy Reid named new co-offensive coordinators from within, promoting spread game analyst/special projects coach Brad Childress and quarterbacks coach Matt Nagy. Childress was the Vikings' head coach from 2006-2010.

Mike Singletary is interviewing to become the Giants' linebacker coach. He was last with the Vikings as their linebackers coach from 2011-13.

•Raiders rookie receiver Amari Cooper was added to the Pro Bowl roster as an injury replacement for Jets wideout Brandon Marshall.