Five potential landing spots for Bob Sanders

For those surprised that the Colts released Bob Sanders on Friday, don’t be. The moment he suffered a season-ending biceps injury in Week 1 against the Texans this past year he gave the team no choice but to part ways with him after a seven-year partnership.

Sanders was a hell of a player from 2004 to 2007. He won the Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2007, went to the Pro Bowl in both ’05 and ’07, and helped the Colts win Super Bowl XLI in February of ’07.

But the Colts made a mistake handing him a $37 million contract in early 2008. Hindsight is always 20/20, but Sanders earned $7.1 million in ’08, $3.95 million in ’09, $5.5 million in ’10 and was scheduled to make $5.5 million with a $500,000 offseason workout bonus this year. During that span, he played in a total of nine games. To put that in perspective, Aaron Francisco started more games at safety (14) in the last two years than Sanders did in the last three. What choice did the Colts have but to cut their losses and move on?

But while the Colts are moving on, another team will certainly give the injury-prone, but highly talented Sanders a long look. The safety position is like a black hole for most NFL teams and surely somebody will take a risk in hopes that Sanders will stay healthy.

Which teams will that be? I’m glad you asked. Below are five potential landing spots for the former DPOY.

Jacksonville Jaguars: This is a definite possibility if the Jaguars are willing to spend. They were forced to go with two young guys in Courtney Greene and Don Carey and while the Jags may give them another year to develop, neither of them were playmakers last year. Sean Considine is fine for depth but he’s not an every-week starter and he’s a free agent next year. Sanders already knows the division and could help groom the younger players. The problem is that the Jags aren’t in need of just one player and if they wind up paying Sanders starter money only to watch him get hurt again, the move could set them back.

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Has Bob Sanders played his last snap for the Colts?

The Indianapolis Star reports that the Colts have placed strong safety Bob Sanders on injured reserve with a torn left biceps. His season is now over.

Highly regarded as one of the premier safeties in the NFL, Sanders played in just two games this season while recording three tackles and one interception. This proceeds his 25-tackle, one-interception 2008 season in which he also battled injuries and started just six games.

Sanders is due to make $620,00 (plus a $2.17 million signing bonus and a $2.83 roster bonus) in 2010, $5.5 million in 2011 and $7 million in 2012. He turns 29 next February and beat writer Philip B. Wilson speculates that the Colts will cut their losses in the offseason to free up salary.

When healthy, Sanders is a game-changer from his safety position. He’s as versatile as Troy Polomalu and Ed Reed, and the best tackler of the trio. But injuries have ransacked his promising career and while he helped Indy win a Super Bowl a few years ago, maybe it is time to move on. He would certainly drum up a lot of interest on the free agent market because NFL teams are always in need of safeties.

His injury issues not withstanding, Sanders would definitely be worth the risk if the Colts do decide to part ways with him in the offseason.

Training Camp Notes: Browns no-huddle, Bob Sanders, JaMarcuss Russell

Cleveland Browns:
Eric Mangini says that the Browns’ quarterbacks have been running the no-huddle since the first day of OTAs and every day during training camp. Mangini wants to create more tactical advantages this season to keep defenses guessing, which was a foreign concept to Romeo Crennel and Butch Davis when they were head coaches in Cleveland. (Cleveland Scores)

Indianapolis Colts:
Jim Caldwell says it’s only a matter of time before Bob Sanders is healthy again, although the head coach admitted that the safety’s knee problems could keep him out of the Colts’ season opener. (Indianapolis Star)

Oakland Raiders:
Beat writer David White says that JaMarcus Russell continues to follow good practices with bad ones and that the third year quarterback still has timing issues with his receivers. Still, with Jeff Garcia battling a calf injury, Russell’s starting job appears to be safe for now. (San Francisco Chronicle)

Houston Texans:
Rookie linebacker Brian Cushing will miss the next 2-3 weeks with a sprained left LCL injury. Cushing is expected to miss Houston’s first two preseason games, but the team is hoping that he’ll be healthy enough to play in the third. Zac Diles will fill in at strong-side linebacker while Cushing is out. (Houston Chronicle)

New York Jets:
The Jets have increased their contract offer to Leon Washington and reportedly are now willing to go as high as $4.5 million a year for the running back. No word yet on if Washington will accept the deal. (New York Daily News)

Training Camp Notes: Smith, Sanders, Bowe

Carolina Panthers:
Receiver Steve Smith is expected to miss at least two weeks with a strained shoulder after suffering the injury in practice on Monday. Dwayne Jarrett is expected to fill in for Smith while he’s out, which is kind of like going from a corvette to a station wagon. (Charlotte Observer)

Indianapolis Colts:
Safety Bob Sanders is expected to meet with orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews soon. Sanders had another clean up procedure done on his knee this offseason and the Colts don’t know when he’ll be healthy again. He hasn’t practiced or played in game since Week 16 of last year. (Indianapolis Star)

Kansas City Chiefs:
Receiver Dwayne Bowe isn’t currently practicing with the Chiefs’ starters and apparently is in new head coach Todd Haley’s doghouse. Haley appears to be making an example of Bowe, who hasn’t responded well to KC’s new disciplined training habits. (Kansas City Star)

New England Patriots:
Tom Brady has yet to miss one practice since returning to action following ACL and MCL surgery. Brady continues to work out with a brace on his knee, although he’ll likely have to play with the brace the rest of his career. (Boston Globe)

Tampa Bay Bucs:
Receiver Antonio Bryant will be out for the next 3-4 weeks with a torn meniscus in his knee. Bryant could miss the entire preseason, but is expected to be healthy by Week 1. Still, the Bucs are thin at receiver and are implementing a new offense so Bryant’s injury is of concern. (Pewter Report)

Earnest Graham is listed ahead of Derrick Ward on Tampa’s depth chart, but considering the Bucs paid Ward like a starter this offseason, it’s wise not to read too much into this. (

Miami Dolphins:
Former Hawaii product Davone Bess has been starting ahead of Greg Camarillo in Miami. Carmarillo appears to be completely recovered from ACL surgery, but Miami likes Bess’ speed and playmaking ability and see him as a starting flanker. (Miami Herald)

NFL Playoff Preview: Wild Card Weekend

What a bizarre season this has been. Two teams that many pundits figured would meet in the Super Bowl – the Cowboys and Patriots – didn’t even make the playoffs. While two teams expected to dwell the cellars of their respective divisions for another season – the Dolphins and Falcons – will be playing in round one of the postseason, which kicks off this weekend.

Below is a complete playoff preview for the four Wild Card games this weekend. In each game preview you’ll find a matchup breakdown, a player to keep an eye on, odds, and a predicted score. (What’s a game preview without a prediction?)

Rather amazingly, all four home teams are underdogs this weekend.

Matt RyanAtlanta Falcons (11-5) at Arizona Cardinals (9-7)
Saturday, January 3, 4:30 PM FOX
Opening Odds: Falcons –2
Over/Under: 51
Game Outlook:
Outside of having to face Kurt Warner and a Cardinals’ offense that averages over 290 passing yards a game, this is a great matchup for the Falcons. Arizona has had issues stopping the run over the past couple weeks and before Edgerrin James cracked 100 yards Sunday against the Seahawks, no Cardinal rusher hit the 100-yard mark in the previous seven games. Offensively, that means Atlanta can do what it does best – put the game in the hands of Michael Turner. “The Burner” is coming off a 208-yard rushing performance in Week 17 and hasn’t shown signs of wearing down despite this being the first season that he’s had to carry the full rushing load. Look for the Falcons to try to wear down Arizona’s front seven throughout the game and keep the Cards’ explosive offense on the sidelines. Once the Cardinal safeties start to creep up to stop Turner, Atlanta offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey can start taking shots down the field with rookie quarterback Matt Ryan. Defensively, the Falcons will have to keep their safeties back in coverage and rely on their front seven to stop the Cardinals’ run game because corners Chris Houston and Dominique Foxworth can’t contain Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald in one on one coverage. Although Boldin has missed the final two games with a shoulder injury, he’s expected to play, which is obviously huge for Warner and the passing game. But if they can’t run the ball they’ll be to one-dimensional and the Falcons will be able to sit back in coverage.
X-Factor: John Abraham, Falcons DE
Abraham has been an absolute beast this season and if the Falcons can build a decent lead with their running game, it will allow Abraham to pin his ears back and head straight for the quarterback. Atlanta has done a nice job rotating their defensive linemen all season to keep them fresh and if Abraham can get pressure on Warner, he’s bound to make mistakes and turn the ball over.
Prediction: Falcons 30, Cardinals 27.
Atlanta’s secondary is a concern (especially with safety Lawyer Milloy nursing a back injury), but the Vikings exposed the Cardinals two weeks ago and the Falcons will use the same blueprint.

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