In the Training Room: Colts Safety Bob Sanders

Bobzilla's not worried - are you?

With Colts safety Bob Sanders currently sitting out with a torn biceps (his second in two years), most fans assume that the team is just prolonging the inevitable.  But instead of shipping Bobzilla to injured reserve, they are holding out hope that he can rehab his way back to the field as early as the San Diego game (November 28).  At the very least, they hope he will be available for the final two or three regular season games and a playoff run, should the Colts get in.  Even if Sanders is available only for those final three games, that could prove significant, as two of those games are against division rival Tennessee – imagine Sanders laying wood on Chris Johnson, denying him a second consecutive 2000-yard season, while propelling the Colts into the playoffs!

So what are the chances that we will see Sanders play another snap during the 2010 season?  There is no easy way to put a specific percentage on it, but here are a few factors:

  1. Typical recovery is at least six months.  In most cases, recovery starts with six to eight weeks of basic range-of-motion exercises, followed by light strengthening for a month, then more regular weight training after that.  The patient typically regains normal strength six to nine months after surgery.  Bobzilla is hoping to start lifting and be football ready within just three months, a seemingly impossible task given the apparent severity of the injury.
  2. Bob has done this before.  Unfortunately, Sanders is familiar with biceps tears, having torn his left biceps last year (ending his season).  Polian pointed to their experience with that injury as rationale for keeping Bob on the active roster.  Essentially, the team hopes that his recovery period is the same 10-12 week period that his last recovery was.
  3. There have been no reported setbacks.  Certainly the operative word here is “reported”, but Paul Kuharsky talked to Polian one week after the surgery, and Polian remained non-committal.  He did mention “a key checkup or benchmark in his rehab [was] upcoming.”  That was over three weeks ago, but there was an update before the Redskins game, when Bill Polian told Andrea Kramer that “Bob Sanders is making progress and they hope to have him back after Thanksgiving.”  With no specifics, it is not out of bounds to infer that the checkup went well enough to stay the course.
  4. He is not on IR yet.  As long as Bob is not on IR, there is hope.  Many will point to last year, when the Colts kept Anthony Gonzalez and Adam Vinatieri on the active roster until deep into the season (including the Super Bowl for Vinny), so this may not mean much.  But if the team physicians believed at this point that Bob was not on pace to return, they would advise Polian to put him on IR.
  5. Despite the decimated defensive backfield, the team is still holding a spot for Bob.  This is similar to the last point, but just to put a finer point on it, the team still holds out enough hope for Bob that they are not opening another spot for someone who could contribute today if even in a backup position.

The truth is that Bobzilla has a HUGE uphill battle ahead, and even if he were to recover at the same pace as before, he is not even halfway there yet.  Considering the typical recovery period, it is more likely than not that Bob has played his last snap of the 2010 season.  But until we see a damning tweet from Adam Schefter, we can cling to hope.

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