Bob Sanders Remains on Active Roster After Undergoing Surgery
Sanders, the 2007 Associated Press National Football League Defensive Player of the Year, underwent surgery on Wednesday to repair a torn biceps tendon, the team announced. Sanders missed the last half of last season with a torn left biceps, and Colts coach Jim Caldwell said this week Sanders' injury this season was to the other arm.
Sanders will remain on the active roster, the team announced.
"It affects us from the standpoint that he's a family member and you'd love to have him out there," Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney said. "We also understand this is the nature of the beast. Life goes on and the game goes on. Unfortunately, we've played a lot of games without him. We've gotten accustomed to not having back there."
Sanders, who missed 14 games last season -- first rehabilitating a knee issue, then with the biceps tear -- missed 10 games the season before that with a knee injury. He has played in more than six games in just two of his six previous NFL seasons.
While the Colts struggled in 2006 when Sanders was out 12 games before playing well in the postseason upon his return, the Colts' defense in recent seasons has been less dependent on Sanders. The unit played solidly last season, finishing 18th in total defense and seventh in points allowed.
A major reason for the Colts' playing well without Sanders has been Melvin Bullitt.
Bullitt, who signed with the team as a free agent following the 2007 NFL Draft, has played in place of Sanders extensively each of the past two seasons. He started nine games in 2008 and 12 last season, finishing with four interceptions in 2008 and 82 tackles last season.
He played in place of Sanders Sunday and had a first-half interception that set up a touchdown.
"Every player on this team has to be ready for any situation like that," Bullitt said. "So, no matter who it is, the next man has to be ready to go. I look at it like being a starter since walking into training camp. I've always prepared as a starter and never took my mind of being one. That's how I prepare for as long as I play."
Bullitt said having been in this situation before "helps a lot."
"Any time you have any experience at doing something, it's always going to benefit you," Bullitt said. "With this situation, it's definitely unfortunate for Bob, but we just have to keep moving forward and keep getting better."
While Bullitt is not quite the dynamic player that Sanders is, that's true of most safeties in the NFL. Sanders is a two-time Pro Bowl selection, but more than that, he makes game-changing plays beyond what is expected of normal safeties. He will be missed, but with Bullitt's experience and ability, just not as much as was the case three or four years ago.