Within the last few days, the Colts have lost starting cornerback Kelvin Hayden (knee) for four weeks and nickelback Marlin Jackson (torn ACL) for the season. Those two injuries thrust rookies Jerraud Powers and Jacob Lacey into the defensive backfield for the foreseeable future.
Now, according to ESPN.com, Indianapolis will be without star safety Bob Sanders for the rest of the year as well.
Sanders, a two-time Pro Bowler, visited renowned orthopedist Dr. James Andrews earlier this week to have what was expected to be a simple scope of his elbow. But in the course of performing the surgery, Andrews noticed that the 28-year-old Sanders had suffered a torn biceps tendon. That is a much more serious injury, and the rehab process figures to sideline The Hulk until next season.
Fortunately for the Colts, their second-stringer Melvin Bullitt is one of the top backup safeties in the league. Bullitt, 24, is nowhere near the playmaker that Sanders is, but he has already amassed 28 tackles this season and had four interceptions in limited action in 2008.
Still, defending the pass without half of their starting secondary and a key package replacement will be the Colts? most formidable obstacle in their pursuit of perfection.
Indianapolis squares off against the Texans this Sunday, and Houston?s quarterback Matt Schaub is tied for the NFL lead with 16 passing touchdowns, and ranks seventh in the league with 8.28 passing yards per attempt. Things don?t get any easier after that either, with the Patriots, Ravens, and Texans (again) looming in the following three weeks.
If the Colts manage to emerge from their next four games without a loss, they may run the table. But the ravaged secondary — and a slew of tough opponents — have their unblemished record hanging in the balance.