Sanders, Addai, Hayden Likely to Play Against New England, Dungy Says
INDIANAPOLIS – Bob Sanders is coming back.
So are Kelvin Hayden and Joseph Addai, but although Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy on Wednesday said the trio likely will play against the New England Patriots on Sunday, he said their return is no cure-all.
And Dungy said their backups will continue to have key roles.
Sanders, the 2007 Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year, has missed the last five games with a knee injury, while Hayden has missed the last three games with a knee injury and Addai has missed the last two games with a hamstring injury.
"I think Bob, Kelvin Hayden and Joseph Addai will all practice," Dungy said Wednesday as the Colts (3-4) prepared to play the AFC East-leading New England Patriots (5-2) at Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis Sunday at 8:15 p.m.
"If everything goes smoothly, they should play."
Dungy, speaking after a morning walkthrough and before the team's afternoon practice also said that Melvin Bullitt and Dominic Rhodes – who have started in the absence of Sanders and Addai, respectively – will continue to play extensively.
"We have to be smart how we use all three of those guys in their first game back," Dungy said.
Bullitt, a second-year veteran from Texas A&M, has 40 tackles and a team-high two interceptions this season. He made four tackles and a tackle for loss in a loss to Tennessee Monday night.
"We'll have to get Melvin in the game some," Dungy said. "He is playing well for us and has done a good job. I don't know that Bob's going to be ready to play 60 plays his first shot out of the box, so I would imagine we'll get Melvin in some that way.
"We have to get some other packages to get him in, because he has done a good job."
Rhodes, who shared time with Addai during Addai's rookie season of 2006 before spending last season with the Oakland Raiders, has rushed for 216 yards on 62 carries in his last three games. Rhodes started two of those games, and played nearly the entire game in the third – a 31-3 victory over Baltimore three weeks ago.
"Again, I wouldn't see Joseph playing the whole game and Dom's done a good job," Dungy said. "He's always done it for us. Any time he has played and had a chance to carry the load, he has done a great job. It wasn't really a surprise."
Sanders, a two-time Pro Bowl selection, had 15 tackles in the first two games of the season before being injured in Week 2 against Minnesota.
"We've got three guys coming back and they'll help us, but they won't magically make everything fine," Dungy said. "We have to get some of the other issues squared away or it won't matter. But they'll definitely help."
Addai, a Pro Bowl selection last season, rushed for more than 1,000 yards in each of his first two NFL seasons and is second on the team behind Rhodes this season with 216 yards and four touchdowns on 62 carries. He started the first five games and left the team's game against Baltimore in the first quarter with the hamstring issue.
Hayden, a starter every game last season and the first four games this season, had 27 tackles in four games, and leads the Colts with six passed defensed. He also had an interception in the Colts' Week 3 loss to Jacksonville.
"I feel pretty good," Hayden said. "You could say I'm ahead of schedule, but at the same time. I feel pretty good. I'm all set to go.
"It's been tough seeing your guys go out there week in and week out and you're not able to participate. It's tough, but it makes you appreciate every week that you're able to go out there. I took it for what it was, trying to get back healthy, Now, hopefully, I'm ready to go."
Also on Wednesday, the Colts released their first injury reof the week, with linebacker Gary Brackett (not injury related/rested), cornerback Tim Jennings (not injury related/rested), running back Clifton Dawson (concussion), defensive end Dwight Freeney (not injury related/rested), wide receiver Roy Hall (knee), cornerback Dante Hughes (ankle), cornerback Marlin Jackson (knee), defensive end Robert Mathis (not injury related/rested), running back Dominic Rhodes (ankle), tight end Tom Santi (shoulder) and wide receiver Reggie Wayne (knee) listed as not participating and linebacker Freddy Keiaho (knee) listed as participating on a limited basis.