On Wednesday, safety Bob Sanders had his most extensive practice time since training camp started, and linebacker Gary Brackett returned to the field for the first time since spraining his left knee in Week 2 at Miami.
Coach Jim Caldwell wouldn't definitively say if either would play Sunday night against the Tennessee Titans, but the Colts clearly expect Brackett to return this week after releasing backup linebacker Jordan Senn. Brackett wasn't even listed on the team's injury report.
"That's correct," Caldwell said about whether the release of Senn means the return of Brackett. "He (Brackett) is back practicing, and we feel good about where he is."
The prospect of getting Sanders back sometime soon is even better news for Indianapolis.
Sanders, the 2007 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, hasn't had any significant practice time since offseason surgery on his right knee. Caldwell said Sanders did some "moving around" in Monday's short, noncontact workout and was listed as a limited participant in Wednesday's practice.
If Sanders can stay healthy, he would add a big-hitting presence to a Colts defense that has allowed just 73 rushing yards and 27 points over the past two weeks against the Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks.
"He is ramping up his activity just a little bit," Caldwell said before practice. "He's not in a full practice or anything of that nature."
How soon could Sanders play?
If he sits out this week, Sanders could have essentially three full weeks of practice before Indy's next game Oct. 25 at St. Louis. The Colts have a bye next week.
Three other defensive players sat out Wednesday. Four-time Pro Bowl defensive end Dwight Freeney rested his strained right quadriceps. Cornerbacks Kelvin Hayden (hamstring) and Marlin Jackson (knee) didn't practice, either.
Indy's other big injury concern this week is left tackle Charlie Johnson, who missed the last part of Sunday's game against the Seahawks. Johnson said his MRI showed no structural damage, though Johnson sat out Wednesday and Caldwell wasn't sure whether Johnson would play at Tennessee.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press