News From Terre Haute, Indiana

CNHI News Service Originals

September 22, 2007

Indy's true safety valve

Sanders’ hit anything that moves style was honed as youngster in Pennsylvania

Ever since he was selected by the Indianapolis Colts in the second round of the 2004 NFL draft, strong safety Bob Sanders has been an integral part of the team’s young defensive unit.

That is, when he has been able to remain healthy. Foot, knee and shoulder injuries have played havoc with his playing time the previous three seasons, limiting the hard-hitting Sanders to seeing action in just 18 out of a possible 48 games.

A year ago, as the Colts were en route to the franchise’s second Super Bowl championship (and first since the team moved to Indianapolis prior to the 1984 season), knee problems forced him to bide his time until the final month of the regular season.

But even though he wasn’t much of a factor during the early portion of the 2006 schedule, his dominating on-field presence during the team’s run to a world championship proved to be invaluable. And, from the looks of things, a lot of the mojo that he helped to engender with the team’s defense has carried over through the first two games of this season.

That much was made very clear when Sanders was named as the AFC’s “Defensive Player of the Week” for his performance in last Sunday’s 22-20 AFC South win over the Tennessee Titans. Eleven total tackles, 2.5 quarterback sacks (the first of his professional career), and three quarterback hurries. It was the type of eye-opening performance that could put him in the running for NFL “Defensive Player of the Year” at the end of the season.

But, once again, the key is the remain healthy. His somewhat dimunative height (5-foot-8) might have been a detriment to other players. But his compact body (Sanders often looks as if he’s wearing shoulder pads when he’s only got a T-shirt on) has been known to deliver some rather vicious hits to opposing quarterbacks, running backs, tight ends and wide receivers.

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