News From Terre Haute, Indiana

December 6, 2008

Colts' Bethea, Sanders and Saturday practice, but all 3 might not play Sunday

By Tom James

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts received some good news Friday as free safety Antoine Bethea (ankle), strong safety Bob Sanders (knee) and center Jeff Saturday (calf) all took part in the team’s early afternoon practice session.

But while it’s a pretty safe bet that Bethea will be in the Colts’ starting lineup Sunday (1 p.m., Lucas Oil Stadium) against the Cincinnati Bengals, the jury remains out as to whether he will be joined by either Sanders or Saturday or outside linebacker Tyjuan Hagler (knee). All three could end up being game-time decisions.

Listed as questionable are running back Joseph Addai (knee), wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez (shoulder), Hagler, Saturday and Sanders. Addai saw limited work on Friday while Bethea, Sanders and Saturday all made it through the workout. Gonzalez and Hagler did not practice.

Middle linebacker Gary Brackett (fibula) and defensive tackle Keyunta Dawson (hamstring) won’t play against the Bengals.

“Antoine, I think, is going to be fine. Tyjuan Hagler [did not] practice [Friday], but we still haven’t ruled him out totally. Bob Sanders [was supposed to do] some work [Friday]. He [was to scheduled to go] through individual period and then we’ll see how he does. If he goes through that and progresses on into team [drills], then there’s probably a good chance he’s going to play [Sunday],” Indianapolis coach Tony Dungy said prior to the workout.

“[Middle linebacker] Gary Brackett will not [play]. Jeff [Saturday] is determined to play, so we’ll see what happens.”

• Keeping the eye on the prize — Despite an 8-4 record and winners of their last five games, the Colts understand that winning this week against Cincinnati is not necessarily a given.

During its current winning streak, Indianapolis’ margin of victory has been by an average of four points. In fact, the Colts have only scored 25 or more points in a game three times (winning two of those games).

“[The winning streak] has a different feel, obviously, that maybe 2005 when you’re winning by two scores and it just seems like things are going your way,” Dungy said. “Even then, you knew how tough it was and how the preparation came into play. But the fact that all of these games have been tight, they’ve been fourth-quarter decisions, I think that does help.”

According to the Indianapolis coach, the Colts have had a good week of practice and should be ready when the Bengals come to town. Keeping their focus intact despite Cincinnati’s 1-10-1 record hasn’t been a problem.

“I think our offense, especially, wasn’t happy with last week’s performance [at Cleveland], so they’ve been very dialed in and very focused. Defensively, I think, we see [wide receivers] Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh, guys who have been to the Pro Bowl. [Running back] Cedric Benson was the fourth player selected in the [2005] draft [by the Chicago Bears],” Dungy said.

“We’ve played against this big offensive line before, so you see some of the guys that they have and we know the talent level, so we have been pretty good [in practice] all week.”

• Utecht hurting — Former Colts tight end Ben Utecht, who signed a free agent contract with Cincinnati in the off season, will be watching from the sidelines Sunday.

Utecht has hauled in 15 passes for 116 yards this season but has been bothered recently by a plantar fascia tear in the arch of his right foot. He has also suffered from a chest injury, which included a broken rib.

After catching 47 passes with Indianapolis a year ago, Utecht played with plantar fascistic in his foot for the last several games before incurring the tear in last week’s 34-3 loss to Baltimore. He has been listed as out for the Colts game.

“I still have a lot to prove here, and I feel like I can do that in the last two games if I can come back and going into next year,” Utecht told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “This season has been a bust for me.

“I’ve never been disappointed in coming to Cincinnati. Is it a different feeling with different frustrations that I’ve never felt before this year? Yeah. I really feel confirmed to be here. I’ve got to try to look to the last couple games and into the future to get my body right and play healthy.”