READY TO PLAY

Safety Bob Sanders, a two-time Pro Bowl safety and last season's Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year, said Tuesday no matter how many games he missed in the regular season, what matters is the Colts open the playoffs on Saturday. And he expects to play.

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Sanders' Status Entering Postseason Similar to 2006, Dungy Says
INDIANAPOLIS – To Bob Sanders, the past is of no imance.

The future? Something he can't control.

Sanders, the 2007 Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year and a two-time Pro Bowl safety, said on Tuesday that no matter how many games he missed in the regular season, what matters this week is this:

The Colts open the playoffs Saturday night.

And he expects to play.

"This is the playoffs," Sanders said as the Colts (12-4) prepared to play the San Diego Chargers (8-8) in an AFC Wild Card Playoff game at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, Cal., Saturday at 8 p.m.

"I have to be ready. Regardless of how much I played during the season – if I didn't play a game at all and I came back in the playoffs – you have to be ready. No excuses, no explanations.

"You have to be ready to get on that field and make plays."

Sanders, who missed 12 regular-season games in 2006 before playing in four postseason games and playing a key role in the Colts' run to the Super Bowl XLI title, missed 10 regular-season games this season, several because of issues surrounding a knee.

Dungy said his status this postseason is similar to that of 2006.

"It will be the same, I'm sure," Dungy said. "We think he's going to be there this week. That's kind of how we went into the '06 playoffs. He was able to play every one and be a factor in every game. If that happens, it would be great. If it doesn't, someone else is going to have to pick up the slack.

"We've played games without him and won. We think we can play without him and win if it has to be again this year."

Sanders this season started the first two games, then missed five games because of an ankle injury and a knee issue. He played in November victories over New England and Pittsburgh, registering 20 tackles and an interception, then missed three games before registering nine tackles in a 35-3 December victory over Cincinnati.

He registered four tackles in the Colts' playoff-clinching victory over Jacksonville on December 18 before missing the regular-season finale, a game in which the Colts rested several defensive players, including Pro Bowl ends Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis and linebacker Freddy Keiaho.

"I'm confident," Sanders said. "I'm going to take it a week at a time. I can't look too far ahead. I just have to take it a day at a time, make sure I'm doing my job, on the details, and just ready to execute and play fast. I can't worry about three, four weeks from now – not even looking to next week. We have to be ready for this week and this week alone. . . .

"The injuries are a little bit different. Rehab has been a little bit different, but it is what it is. I'm here now, this is a new season and I'm excited and ready to go."

The Colts did not issue an official practice report Tuesday, but Dungy said middle linebacker Gary Brackett will not play on Saturday. Brackett, the Colts' defensive captain, missed the last four regular-season games with a fibula injury.

"He's making progress, and we'll visit again next week if we win," Dungy said.

Dungy also said the team will try to get Mike Pollak (ankle) and Jamey Richard into practice this week. Veteran Dan Federkeil likely will start at guard if neither Pollak or Richard are available Saturday, Dungy said.

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