Colts Two-Time Pro Bowl Safety to Miss Undetermined Time with Ankle Injury
INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts spent preseason without their eight-time Pro Bowl quarterback, then spent the first two weeks of the regular-season without their three-time Pro Bowl center.
Now, they'll be without another Pro Bowl selection.
And this one was the Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year last season.
Bob Sanders, a consensus selection as the 2007 NFL Defensive Player of the Year and a Pro Bowl safety in 2005 and 2007, will miss an undetermined amount of time with a high-ankle sprain, Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy said Wednesday.
"He's going to miss some time with a high-ankle sprain – how much that is, we'll have to see," Dungy said Wednesday as the Colts (1-1) prepared to play the Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2) in an AFC South game at Lucas Oil Stadium Sunday at 4:15 p.m.
The news of Sanders' status came the same day Dungy said center Jeff Saturday – a Pro Bowl selection the past three seasons who missed the first two games of the regular season – could return Sunday.
Tight end Dallas Clark also could return Sunday, Dungy said.
"If I were guessing I'd say they're going to play," Dungy said. "Jeff is ready to go. He kind of felt like he was ready to go last week. Dallas is going to practice and if everything goes well, I think he'll play as well. We probably need to see Dallas practice this week. Jeff practiced a lot last week and I think will be ready to go."
Said Clark before Wednesday's practice, "Today's the big day. I'll go out there and get hit around and stuff like that and see how it feels. I feel pretty confident with it. It feels strong. It feels stable. I think it's looking good, but I don't want to say anything, because I haven't gone out there and practiced with the guys and actually had contact.
"I'm excited to see what happens. I'm feeling positive about it."
Sanders, who missed the first two weeks of training camp after offseason shoulder surgery, left the Colts' game against the Minnesota Vikings Sunday in the second half.
Second-year safety Melvin Bullitt, who played much of the fourth quarter after Sanders' departure, likely will start in Sanders' place alongside Pro Bowl safety Antoine Bethea, Dungy said. The other safety on the active roster is four-year veteran Matt Giordano.
"Guys just have to step in," Colts middle linebacker and defensive captain Gary Brackett said. "The defense is not going to change. We're still going to call the same defense and typically, when he has been out, guys have come in and really stepped up."
Said defensive end Dwight Freeney, "The mentality is not going to change. It's going to be 11 guys to the ball, swarming to the ball, trying to make a tackle. Whoever is going to take Bob's place, he's going to have to go out there and do his job like we always preach.
"Of course, there's a dropoff. With a great player like Bob, there's going to be some sort of dropoff. There may not be that spectacular play, but have a guy go out there and do his job? Definitely, we can still do that."
Bullitt typically works with the first-team defense on Thursdays in practice, Dungy said Monday. That's the day each week Sanders typically does not practice for rest reasons.
"I found out that he was out today just like everybody else did," Bullitt said. "I'm just approaching it the same as I do every week. Of course, I'll be going with the ones every day in practice instead of just in Thursday. You just get prepared as you usually do."
Rookie Jamie Silva, who signed with the Colts as an free agent shortly after the 2008 NFL Draft, is on the Colts' practice squad and could be activated before Sunday, Dungy said.
"There's a chance, especially in a game like this where they do a lot with two running backs and two tight ends," Dungy said. "We'll look at it at the end of the week and see what our choices are."
Bullitt, an undrafted free agent from Texas A&M, played 15 games as a reserve safety and special teams players last season, and played the first two games of this season. He has two defensive tackles and two special teams tackles this season.
"Melvin played the fourth quarter of the game and did a good job in there," Dungy said. "He did a nice job and we actually played a little bit better – team effort. I don't know that Melvin played better than Bob did, but we stopped (Vikings running back Adrian Peterson) a little bit better in that fourth quarter."
Sanders also could have arthroscopic surgery on his knee while he is recovering from the ankle sprain, Dungy said.
"I know Bob was going to consult with our doctors and a second-opinion doctor over whether he should get his knee scoped or not," Dungy said.
Dungy also said the knee procedure likely would not cause Sanders to miss more time than the high-ankle sprain.
"That's kind of what they're looking at – how long is he realistically going to be out with this high-ankle sprain and if he is going to miss two or three weeks, then it would make sense to go ahead and have the knee surgery," Dungy said. "If not, he has played on it, so we'll see what happens."
In other Colts news, starting left tackle Tony Ugoh – who left Sunday's game with a groin injury – is doubtful for Sunday, Dungy said, as are guard Mike Pollak (knee) and tight end Jacob Tamme (ankle).
Wide receiver Roy Hall, who has missed the first two games, could return for the Colts' game against the Houston Texans on October 5, Dungy said. Defensive tackle Keyunta Dawson, who sustained an ankle injury against Minnesota, could play Sunday, Dungy said.
"Hopefully, we'll have Roy back fully ready to go after the bye," Dungy said.
The Colts on Wednesday released their first injury reof the week, with Sanders, Ugoh, Hall, Tamme, Dawson, defensive tackle Daniel Muir (knee), Pollak, defensive end Dwight Freeney (rested), cornerback Tim Jennings (rested) and running back Joseph Addai (rested) listed as not practicing.
"We were complaining about (having a Week 4 bye) when the schedule came out, but maybe it's the Lord's way of looking out for us and taking care of us," Dungy said. "It's going to come at a good time. Especially if we can get a win and get some of these guys healed up, it's going to look like it's coming at a good time."