EXCITED TO BE BACK

Safety Bob Sanders is participating in the Colts' three-day mandatory mini-camp and said after his past two seasons, 'I definitely enjoy it.'

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Colts Safety Bob Sanders: "I Can Only Worry About the Things I Can Control"

INDIANAPOLIS – As Bob Sanders sees it, he is happy to be where he is.

Sanders, entering his seventh season as a safety with the Colts, said he is concerned chiefly with what he can control. As mini-camp ensues, he said knows this:

He feels healthy. He feels good.

And for Sanders, that's a really positive thing.

"I'm excited to be back," Sanders said Friday, the first day of the Colts' three-day mandatory mini-camp, a period that will include an open-to-the-public practice at Lucas Oil Stadium Saturday at 2:15 p.m.

"I'm excited to be practicing. I'm excited to get back to doing what I love to do, and I'm sure (wide receiver) Anthony (Gonzalez) feels the same way. It's kind of one of those things where, 'Out of sight, out of mind.' I'm totally fine with that."

Sanders (5-feet-8, 206 pounds), the 2007 Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the Year, played just two games last season, missing the rest with knee and biceps injuries.

Sanders, a Pro Bowl selection in 2005 and 2007 who missed 10 games in 2008 with a knee injury, missed the first five games last season with a knee injury, started two games, then missed the final nine games after sustaining a season-ending biceps injury.

"He's healthy," Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell said. "He moves well. He's excited. I think he feels really good, and he looks good."

Said Sanders, "I've been able to rehab myself back to pretty decent health where I can actually practice full-time. OTAs have really gone well for me.

"The knee has been doing great, the arm is doing great, so I feel great."

Caldwell has talked several times in the off-season about Sanders' excitement at being able to participate in the off-season. A second-round selection in the 2004 NFL Draft, Sanders said while he has missed time each of the past two seasons, it is significant that he is able to participate in the Colts' organized team activities sessions, four weeks of on-field, team-oriented work scheduled to end next week.

While OTA sessions are without pads and extensive contact, Colts coaches and players consider them critical to being ready for the season, and Sanders said he often has missed OTAs while rehabilitating injuries. Not having to miss them will be a benefit, Sanders said.

"It's been a long time," Sanders said. "This is the first time I've been able to do OTAs in years. I was always at this time rehabbing and icing up a lot and spending a lot of time in the training room, so it feels good not to spend most of my off-season in the training room and actually be able to go in the weight room and get my weight back up and be able to compete with my teammates.

"Just being around that atmosphere of building that camaraderie and working with my teammates, it's definitely encouraging and a lot of fun."

Sanders, who has made the Pro Bowl in both seasons in which he played 10 or more games, said he doesn't think much about long-term questions such as how much he will play next season. As is true with what people say and think, he said it's not something over which he has influence.

His focus, he said, remains on the day-to-day.

"I can only worry about the things that I can control, and that's my rehab, strength and conditioning, learning the defense, just staying focused and taking it a day at a time," Sanders said. "I don't want to think outside of today. Today, I have to practice, work out and get through today.

"I try not to look too far forward, and just focus on one day at a time, an hour and a minute at a time and see what happens."

Sanders said he has utilized a hyperbaric chamber, something defensive end Dwight Freeney also has discussed using in the past, to help his physical condition.

"It's really helped me," Sanders said. "I'm not sure if it's the same for other guys, but it's helped me get a little better. That's just one thing that I've done that I haven't done in the past."

"I've done it all. I don't want to create a list now because we'd be here all day if I told you all the things I've done (to focus on his health). Not really much has changed as far as my preparation. I've prepared. The defense has changed a lot, so I have more time to focus on that."

And Sanders said after two seasons with much of his focus on rehabilitation, his main aim now is to remain focused on not only the present, but on football. He said he is looking forward to playing extensively under second-year defensive coordinator Larry Coyer, who utilized more blitzing last season than his predecessor, Ron Meeks.

"I love it because it just expands my game, and each safety around here," Sanders said. "It gives us more opunity to show what we can do and showcase our skills. We're excited about it and look forward to getting better at it."

But mostly, Sanders said the way he feels now, the scheme isn't as exciting as simply being with teammates and going through the process of preparing for the season.

"Like I said, it's been a long time," Sanders said. "Usually, my teammates really don't see me on the field playing until it's game time on Sundays. It's exciting to get back out there and compete and run around and just enjoy the weather and just being back on the field, getting my feet underneath me and just having fun.

"I definitely enjoy it. Just the past few years, it's been all rehab, rehab, strength and conditioning. It's been hard to really focus on keeping my head in those books, but now I can actually keep working at it, keep getting better. It's encouraging, it's exciting because I'm actually able to put myself in a position where I am getting better. Instead of just rehabbing myself to 100, I'm actually getting better and can go across that 100 percent."

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