Bye Week: Get Well Soon, Colts

One of the major factors in the Colts' slow start to the season has been the number of injuries that have beset the team. Brad Keller takes a look at who will be helped by the bye week and who else will be available in the weeks to come.

Here's a look at the people who will be coming back in the coming weeks:

Tyjuan Hagler:

Hagler's status is fairly easy to determine, since he's currently on the Physically Unable to Perform list and cannot practice or be activated until the Week 7 game against the Packers due a pectoral injury.

The Colts have until Week 10 to place Hagler on the active roster, but an injury such as his is one that just requires time to heal, which is precisely what Indianapolis gave him when they placed him on the PUP list. 

The healing process is likely over, but Hagler needs to regain strength and confidence in this muscle, as it's one of the most important ones on the torso.  If the struggles of the run defense persist, Hagler is a safe bet to come back against Green Bay, whether he has full strength and confidence or not.

If he needs more time, his injury timetable is probably more linked to the performance of teammates than his actual recovery.

Ryan Lilja:

He is in the same situation as Hagler, in that he is on the PUP list as well and the unit that he contributes to the most, the offensive line, is also hobbled and struggling.

He should be available for the Green Bay game as well, since injuries continue to mount along the offensive line and, given the improvement in performance that they experienced when Jeff Saturday returned to the lineup, the Colts will probably insert him back in as a starter as soon as he is eligible.

Mike Pollak:

There is good news on the Pollak front, as he was able to practice this week.  His opportunities will largely depend on the health of Tony Ugoh and Daniel Federkeil, since an injury to Federkeil would put him in at guard as a replacement and an injury to Ugoh would slide Charlie Johnson to left tackle and Pollak would need to take Johnson's place.

Tony Ugoh:

Ugoh is hopeful, though, that he will be able to play on October 5th against the Texans.  He was held out of practice this week, but the reports that come out of practice in advance of Week 5 will obviously show more than the reports for this week.

A groin injury like his simply requires rest and physical therapy, which he is no doubt getting plenty of this week and will probably get next week if it means the difference between him starting or sitting.

Jacob Tamme:

Saw some light action this week, but he should be ready for the game against Houston.

Dallas Clark:

He was held out of practices, but it's a fairly sure bet to be in the starting lineup for the next game.  Clark is familiar enough with the offense and Peyton Manning that he can miss practice time without too much of an adverse affect on performance.

Bob Sanders:

Sanders is another player that has been able to "rest nagging injuries" throughout the course of the week and perform well on Sundays.  In addition to a high ankle sprain, Sanders also recently had knee surgery.

His return will depend greatly on how well the defense fares in his absence, particularly the run defense.  Though the original prognosis for his return after his injury in Week 2 was that he was going to be out four to six weeks, the knee surgery complicates the issue.

Unless the defense implodes, the best bet for a Sanders return is probably Week 9 against New England or Week 10 against Pittsburgh.  If the team finds themselves in dire straits — both defensively and in the standings — he could be made available for the Week 8 matchup against Tennessee.

Marvin Harrison:

At this point, continuing to monitor whether or not Harrison has fully recovered from the bursa sac injury that sidelined him for 11 games in 2007 is unnecessary,as he continues to cut and move with authority and precision.  While he may not be the Marvin Harrison of 2002, he's certainly the Marvin Harrison of 2006, which is a boon for this offense.

Peyton Manning:

His bursa sac injury is one that will probably need to be monitored all season.  Although he is taking snaps from center as the starting quarterback, early indications say that Manning is not operating at 100 percent capacity and that he does not have full range of motion in his injured knee.

It was a good sign that the Colts were able to go back to their stretch play last week, and it will be worth watching how well he executes that play going forward.

As discussed before, the Colts should be able to run counters, traps, and draws rather effectively, so it will be interesting to see if they stick with the tosses and sweeps that have been less than stellar thus far, or if they tweak their game plan to work to their strengths — and avoiding Manning's weakness.

Also, since the offensive line is not going to be made whole overnight, a situation that also needs to be monitored is how Manning is able to slide and maneuver to escape pressure.  This was an aspect of his game that he worked on with quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell prior to the 2006 season and that work paid dividends the past two years.

Can he return to that form, or will Manning and the Colts offense to be forced to adjust for all of 2008?  It's something that should be watched, to be sure.  Only Manning and his knee know the answer.


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