By Tom James
INDIANAPOLIS — Bob Sanders may be on the Indianapolis Colts’ regular-season roster heading into the National Football League’s opening weekend. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the often-injured safety will be available to play Sunday when the Jacksonville Jaguars visit Lucas Oil Stadium.
Sanders was activated off the Colts’ physically unable to perform list on Saturday. He had been sidelined during the team’s training camp and preseason as he recovered from offseason knee surgery.
“The biggest thing [in the decision to activate Sanders] is that we felt he is going to be inside of that five- or six-week window [in terms of returning]. He’s making good progress. He’s coming along. Whenever he’s ready, we’ll put him out there. He’s doing well at this juncture,” coach Jim Caldwell said Monday. “How soon [he’ll return], I’m not certain. But as soon as I get a bead on when that is, I’ll let you know.”
In other injury-related updates, defensive end Raheem Brock (hand), offensive guard Ryan Lilja (shoulder/knee), weakside linebacker Clint Session (ankle) and cornerback Kelvin Hayden (hamstring) have all been cleared to play and should be able to practice on Wednesday. Tight end Tom Santi (ankle) is expected to be sidelined for a couple more weeks.
• Two kickers on roster — Indianapolis kept both Adam Vinatieri and backup placekicker Shane Andrus on the regular-season roster.
Vinatieri, who missed most of training camp and the preseason after undergoing hip and knee surgery in the offseason, is said to have come through his only preseason appearance in good shape. He handled field goals in the Colts’ 38-7 loss to Cincinnati last Thursday, missing from 41 yards out.
“Keeping two kickers is one of those situations where, obviously, [Andrus has] done extremely well [in the preseason]. But also looking at Adam’s situation too, that we probably wanted to take a little bit of the workload off of him in terms of kicking off. So that’s our reason behind Shane being here and as a second placekicker,” Caldwell explained.
The Indianapolis coach wouldn’t say whether Andrus would be kept around for the long term or if it was just for the beginning of the season.
“It is what it is right now. And we’ll see how that goes week by week,” he said.
As for Vinatieri, Caldwell said that he appears to be in pretty good shape physically heading into the Jacksonville game. Barring a setback in his rehab work, the Pro Bowl kicker will start against the Jaguars on Sunday.
“No worse for wear [after the Bengals game]. He seemed to come through it well and still in the process of getting stronger and better every day,” Caldwell said.
• Painter on team — It may have come as a surprise to some, but the Colts ultimately decided to keep three quarterbacks on the team’s regular season roster.
With Vincennes native and former Purdue signal caller Curtis Painter sticking around, it marks the first time since 2002 that Indianapolis has begun the year with three quarterbacks and the first time since 2004 that the Colts have had three quarterbacks at any point in the regular season.
“Curtis proved that he belongs,” Caldwell said. “He performed very well [in the preseason] and did a great job. That’s probably [why he was not cut] more so than anything else. He handled some very difficult situations with a lot of poise. He was also effective.”
• No Ed Johnson this week — Defensive tackle Ed Johnson will serve an NFL-mandated one-game suspension this week, which means that he won’t be available to play against the Jaguars. It also means that he won’t be able to participate in practice, be in the locker room or weight room or even enter the team’s West 56th Street headquarters.
“No, he cannot practice this week. My understanding is that he will not be around the building,” Caldwell said.
Johnson was arrested last year a couple of days after a season-opening loss to the Chicago Bears. He had originally been stopped for speeding when police officials discovered marijuana in his car. The former Penn State defensive lineman, who started as an undrafted rookie in 2007, was released by the Colts soon thereafter. The suspension is for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy.
He was given a second chance with the team this summer and had been working with the first-team defense during training camp and the preseason. Johnson is expected to be back with the team next Monday.
• Roster moves — The Colts waived second-year outside linebacker Jordan Senn on Monday and formally announced the addition of ex-Arizona Cardinals safety Aaron Francisco.
Francisco was a member of Arizona’s Super Bowl team a year ago. He played five seasons with the Cardinals, mostly as a backup defensive back and on special teams.
Caldwell expects the former Brigham Young standout to make an immediate contribution to the Indianapolis defense and special-teams units.
“We’re going to try to get him acclimated as quickly as we possibly can. Hopefully we’ll be able to put him into action on Sunday, particularly in the area of special teams,” the Colts coach said.
Rookie linebacker Cody Glenn, who was claimed off the Washington Redskins’ waiver list, also made his first appearance in the Indianapolis locker room on Monday.
“We had an opportunity to look at him when he was coming out of Nebraska. He’s a good-sized guy, he’s 240 pounds and packs some punch. And he’s got good speed,” Caldwell said of the former Cornhuskers running back.
“He’s a pretty versatile player as well. He’s also a guy that can play some special teams. He certainly gives us a little bulk, with a little punch and power and some speed as well.”
• Weatherford signs with Jets — Former Terre Haute North punter Steve Weatherford has signed a free-agent contract with the New York Jets.
Weatherford was released by the Jacksonville Jaguars on Saturday. He began his NFL career as an undrafted free agent with the New Orleans Saints and also spent some time with the Kansas City Chiefs. The ex-University of Illinois kicker worked out for New York officials on Monday and wound up replacing A.J. Trapasso on the Jets’ roster.
Trapasso had been waived by the Tennessee Titans on Saturday and signed by the Jets on Sunday. Weatherford is the fifth punter to have been signed by New York during training camp and the preseason (that list includes former Ball State and Colts backup punter Reggie Hodges). Ex-Indiana State defensive line coach Mike Westhoff is in his ninth year as the Jets’ special teams coach and is in his 27th season as an NFL assistant.