Cornerback Likely Will Start Against Chargers, Dungy Says
INDIANAPOLIS – For Kelvin Hayden, the news was welcome.
And if it took longer to get it than he hoped, he said the imant thing is he got it Friday.
Hayden, the Colts' fourth-year veteran cornerback who has been out since sustaining a knee injury in early October, likely will play and start Sunday in San Diego, Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy said late Friday morning.
Hayden has missed the last six games with knee and hamstring injuries.
"It's exciting," Hayden said Friday as the Colts (6-4) prepared to play the Chargers (4-6) at Qualcomm Field in San Diego Sunday at 8:15 p.m.
"It's been six weeks and I'm just excited to get back out there with the guys – hopefully get a win and make some plays and come back home. I think I'm 100 percent. I didn't have any setbacks this week in practice. No aches, no little pains. . . .
"I feel good. I feel ready to go."
Said Dungy, "I think Kelvin will be ready to go. He went through Thursday's practice and seemed to do fine. He was good Friday."
Dungy, who said Hayden will start if he's ready to play, also said safety Bob Sanders – who missed last week's game with knee swelling – likely will be a game-time decision.
"We'll see what happens," Dungy said.
Dungy said Hayden likely will start in place of Keiwan Ratliff, who has started the last three games since a season-ending knee injury to Marlin Jackson. Third-year veteran Tim Jennings likely will start opposite Hayden, Dungy said.
Dungy said Ratliff – who signed as a free agent shortly before starting against New England on November 2 – likely will be the nickel back.
"It gives you certainly more depth," Dungy said. "We actually went into these last few games with just three corners, so that part of it we feel much better about – that we can withstand injury a little bit better. We have a chance to play three true corners if we want to in nickel situations. It gives us a little more of a chance to play dime defenses, so it helps us in a lot of ways even more than just getting your starting corner back."
Said Hayden, "It was just something that happened and I'm happy to be back from it. It was tough. . . . You just have to stay positive. That's the thing I tried to do, was stay positive about it, because I was always tell myself, 'The easy thing is to get down on yourself.'''
Also on Friday, the Colts released their third injury report of the week, with safety Antoine Bethea (ankle), middle linebacker Gary Brackett (quadriceps), Hayden (hamstring), defensive end Robert Mathis (toe), defensive end Darrell Reid (hip) and safety Bob Sanders (knee) listed as questionable. Wide receiver Roy Hall (knee) was listed as out and offensive tackle Tony Ugoh (knee) was listed as probable.
Bethea, Brackett, Mathis and Reid missed practiced Wednesday before practicing Thursday and Friday while Hayden missed Wednesday, returned on a limited basis on Thursday and practiced on a full-participation basis Friday.
Sanders and Hall did not participate in practice this week and Ugoh was listed as participating on a limited basis Friday.
Also, the Colts awarded game balls for a 33-27 victory over Houston this past Sunday to the offensive line (offense), linebacker Clint Session (defense) and linebacker Tyjuan Hagler (special teams).