A dozen players, including six starters, will sit out the game against Atlanta, the Colts said Friday after completing their final practice in the morning at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.
The announcement was no surprise since Manning, Sanders and Freeney have yet to practice, and Manning still has not been on the practice field as he recovers from knee surgery last month.
Coach Tony Dungy said Manning has started lifting weights and throwing.
The other starters on the team's injury list are linebacker Tyjuan Hagler, right guard Ryan Lilja and right tackle Ryan Diem.
Manning, Sanders, Freeney, Hagler and Lilja are still on the physically-unable-to-perform-list. Diem injured his shoulder during practice this week.
The Colts had set Friday as the target date for the return of Sanders and Freeney to the field, but Dungy decided to hold them out until the team begins sessions at its Indianapolis complex next week.
"I think they're pretty close to being ready to go," Dungy said. "We toyed with the idea of getting them out there a little bit here, but decided to wait. I think we'll get some of the guys back next week."
Also sitting out Saturday will be rookie linebacker Philip Wheeler, a third-round pick who recently had knee surgery, and rookie tight end Tom Santi, a sixth-round pick who had surgery to remove an infected bursa sac in his knee in June and has been on the PUP list since July 24.
Manning had the same surgery as Santi on July 14, and the Colts have been watching Santi's progress to establish a better timetable for Manning's expected return.
Santi started running this week, and Dungy believes he could begin practicing next week. The Colts figure he is two weeks ahead of Manning, but Santi has declined to answer questions about his rehab process.
Defensive back Melvin Bullitt (thumb), receiver Roy Hall (hamstring), defensive end Josh Thomas (groin) and linebacker Victor Worsley (hamstring) will not play against Atlanta, either.
"He's fine, he should be good to go," Dungy said.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press