FINDING THE RIGHT MIX

Colts safety Bob Sanders missed this past Sunday's game with swelling in his knee. Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy said Wednesday the hope for the rest of the season is to find a practice schedule allowing Sanders to work enough to adequately prepare while allowing the knee adequate rest.

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Sanders' Practice Time May be Monitored the Rest of the Season, Dungy Says
INDIANAPOLIS – Bob Sanders' practice time will be closely watched this week.

And as Head Coach Tony Dungy sees it, likely will be the approach the team takes with the two-time Pro Bowl safety the rest of the season.

Sanders, the 2007 Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the Year, missed this past Sunday's game against the Houston Texans because of swelling in his knee, Dungy said Wednesday. Dungy said the hope for the rest of the season is to find a practice schedule allowing Sanders to work enough to adequately prepare while allowing the knee adequate rest.

Dungy said Sanders won't have a full practice week this week.

And he said it's not clear yet if Sanders will play Sunday.

"It's going to be one of those situations where we have to monitor his practice time," Dungy said Wednesday as the Colts (6-4) prepared to play the San Diego Chargers (4-6) in an AFC game at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, Cal., Sunday at 8:15 p.m.

"We'll hopefully have him practice enough to be sharp and not so much that his knee swells, and hopefully have him all year. We're trying to find that right mix. Hopefully, his swelling is down enough that he will be able to play on Sunday, and it's probably going to be that way the rest of the year. . . .

"I think he'll practice a little bit this week. I don't know how much, but he certainly won't have a full practice any day this week."

Dungy discussed Sanders' status the same day the team made a series of roster moves, placing two players – recently-signed defensive back Nick Graham and rookie tight end Tom Santi – on injured reserve.

Graham sustained an ankle injury this past Sunday, and Santi – a sixth-round selection in the 2008 NFL Draft from the University of Virginia – has been hampered by a shoulder injury the past several weeks.

"Tom just kept having episodes with it and we felt it was going to be better to get it fixed and not be two steps forward and one step backward every week," Dungy said. "It was pretty apparent that as long as he kept practicing and trying to play it wasn't going to get better."

The Colts signed tight end Jamie Petrowski from the Tennessee Titans practice squad, and signed rookie defensive back Brandon Foster from their practice squad. They also signed defensive back A.J. Davis, wide receiver Marques Hagans and safety Brannon Condren to the practice squad, releasing from the practice squad quarterback David Greene and tight end Eric Butler.

Petrowski (6-feet-4, 262 pounds), who played collegiately at Indiana State, originally signed as a free agent with Tennessee shortly after the 2006 NFL Draft. He has been on and off the Titans' practice squad four times in three seasons.

"I'm real excited about it – my family's excited," Petrowski said. "I'm just happy to be here. I'm going to have to get into the (play)books and learn what I have to learn in the offense, but I'll contribute any way I can."

Said Dungy, "He's a big guy and hopefully, he can run and catch the ball a little bit for us. We have some tight ends who can run and catch, so he's more of a point-of-attack guy for us. Hopefully, he can learn what we're doing pretty quick."

Foster signed as a free agent with the Colts shortly after the 2008 NFL Draft, and spent training camp with the team before joining the practice squad at the start of the regular season.

Condren, a fourth-round selection in the 2007 NFL Draft, was released by the Colts shortly before the start of this season. He spent four games with the St. Louis Rams and four with the Miami Dolphins, the latter of which released him last week.

Also on Wednesday, the Colts released their first injury of the week, with safety Antoine Bethea (ankle), linebacker Gary Brackett (quadriceps), defensive end Dwight Freeney (not injury related-rested), wide receiver Roy Hall (knee), cornerback Kelvin Hayden (hamstring), cornerback Tim Jennings (not injury related-rested), defensive end Robert Mathis (toe), defensive end Darrell Reid (hip) and Sanders (knee) listed as not participating in practice.

Dungy said Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne's situation the last two weeks was similar to that faced by Sanders in the coming weeks. Wayne, a two-time Pro Bowl selection in his eighth NFL seasons, played the last two weeks, catching 13 passes for 204 yards and a touchdown.

"Reggie's kind of in the same boat," Dungy said. "He has ankles that have been rolled up, knees that have been rolled up . . . Reggie didn't practice much the last two weeks and we had just kind of the right amount of practice time for him to be sharp, but to be able to play during the week.

"I think Bob's going to be that way. It's a little easier to do with veteran guys, so we'll see what happens."

Dungy also said in the wake of the NFL's first tie in six seasons Sunday he discussed with players on Wednesday the NFL's regular-season overtime rule, under which games end in a tie if neither team scores in the first 15-minute overtime period.

"Most of our veterans did (know the rule), but a lot of our young guys did not," Dungy said. "I guess it just tells you you can't take anything for granted."

Dungy said he favors the NFL's "sudden-death" system over the college system, which mandates each team gets at least one possession to decide a winner.

"I like exactly the way it's done," Dungy said. "It forces you to make decisions. You generally want the ball when you win the toss, but . . . I'm one of those guys – I guess being a defensive coach all of my life – I've never complained about not getting the ball. Every time they snap the ball you have an opunity to get it back. To say, 'We never got the ball,' that's your fault.

"I think it's one of those things that forces coaches to make decisions. It puts it in a do-or-die, sudden-death mode. I like it."

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