Colts still planning to go without 4 starters against Bucs Print
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Wednesday, 03 October 2007 10:35
NFL Headline News

 INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -Tony Dungy hopes three of his injured starters can play against Tampa Bay this week. He just can't count on it.
So when the Indianapolis Colts went back to work Wednesday, Dungy was making contingency plans for the possible absences of receiver Marvin Harrison, running back Joseph Addai and safety Bob Sanders, all of whom were hurt in last Sunday's victory over Denver.
``No one's out, and if they can practice by Friday, it would be a plus, definitely,'' the coach said Wednesday before practice. ``You can sit and wait and hope that they'll come back, but I've never been one to do that. You have to move on.''
None of the three was expected to practice Wednesday and the only certainty was that outside linebacker Rob Morris, another starter, would be placed on injured reserve, ending his season. Morris, the Colts' first-round pick in 2000 and a key ingredient in the defense's postseason resurgence, had surgery Tuesday to repair a tendon in his left knee.
But uncertainty continued swirling around three of the Colts' biggest names.
Harrison, fourth on the NFL's all-time receptions chart, injured his left knee when Denver linebacker D.J. Williams rolled into Harrison's left leg while tackling Addai. When the series ended, Harrison headed to the locker room with what the Colts called a bruised knee.
``I can't say it would not be different if he wasn't out there,'' Super Bowl MVP Peyton Manning said. ``We certainly hope he will be.''
Addai, last year's top rookie rusher, bruised his right shoulder in the fourth quarter when he was tackled near midfield. Sanders, the heart of the Colts' defense, didn't play in the second half against Denver after hurting his ribs.
It's a familiar theme for the former Pro Bowl safety who entered this season hoping to play all 16 games for the first time in his four-year career. He missed 24 of 48 games in his first three seasons.
``Obviously, Bob is a big part of our defense and if he's not out there, we'll miss him,'' middle linebacker Gary Brackett said.
Another factor in Dungy's decision might be timing.
The Colts (4-0) have a bye next week and because Tampa Bay plays in the NFC, the game won't have the same tiebreaker implications as an AFC opponent. Holding all three players out would give them more than two weeks to recuperate.
Plus, Indianapolis appears to have enough depth to overcome most of the injuries.
Backup safety Matt Giordano played extensively in Sanders' absence last season, and has been even better this year in limited action.
Six-year veteran Rocky Boiman, who has one start, 11 tackles and an interception this season, replaces Morris.
If Harrison can't play, the Colts' options include more frequently using rookie receiver Anthony Gonzalez, a first-round pick; moving tight end Dallas Clark into the slot, which Indy did successfully in the playoffs after Brandon Stokley went down with a torn Achilles' tendon last year; or reverting to their two tight-end formations.
``I think we're preparing for a little bit of everything like we always do,'' Clark said. ``We've just got to go in and see, kind of, what the personality of the game is.''
Finding a replacement for Addai would be tougher.
The only other running backs on Indy's active roster are Kenton Keith, Luke Lawton and Clifton Dawson, who was signed last week. Keith spent the last four seasons in the Canadian Football League and none of the three had an NFL carry until the season opener.
Last week, Keith carried 10 times for 80 yards, primarily after Addai left, and is confident he can do the job this week if needed.
``I'm ready to roll,'' Keith said. ``I'm always ready to roll.''
But will Dungy need all those replacements?
``We're preparing to play without those guys,'' he said. ``Hopefully, they'll practice by Friday, but you never know. So we've got to get the other guys ready to go.''
 

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