Colts D to play without Simon, Sanders vs. Titans

Updated: October 4, 2006, 1:37 PM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

The undefeated Indianapolis Colts haven't lined up yet this season with a full complement of defensive players, and that streak will continue for at least one more week.

Team officials have already ruled out tackle Corey Simon and Pro Bowl free safety Bob Sanders for Sunday's game at the RCA Dome against the Tennessee Titans, meaning that Indianapolis coaches will continue to cut and paste on defense.

Sanders will miss a third straight game after quietly undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery two weeks ago. His spot in the lineup will be taken by former starter Mike Doss, who has played well in replacing Sanders, notching 13 tackles, one interception and three passes defensed in the past two outings.

The Colts are optimistic that Sanders, their most physical hitter in the secondary, will return following the team's bye week. Indianapolis is off Oct. 15, then resumes on Oct. 22, hosting Washington. A third-year veteran, Sanders had missed time in the past with knee problems, and the Colts hope the recent procedure will get him back to full speed for the rest of the campaign.

There is, however, no timetable for the return of Simon, who underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in August, and hasn't practiced or played since. As reported last week by ESPN.com, some Colts officials are growing increasing frustrated with the Simon situation.

Indianapolis signed Simon to a five-year, $30 million contract last September after the Philadelphia Eagles rescinded the franchise tag on him, making the former first-round pick an unrestricted free agent. The deal included $13 million in bonuses, but Simon hasn't paid much dividend on that pricey investment.

Simon, 29, played in 13 games in 2005, all starts, but contributed only 41 tackles and did not have a sack for the first time in his career. A bigger-bodied lineman than the Colts typically employ up front, Simon was to have been a key rotational player at tackle, a defender who could provide muscle against the run.

His absence has forced Indianapolis to alter its tackle rotation and meant that other players have had to log more snaps than originally anticipated.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.