Colts' Gonzalez close to returning

By CLIFF BRUNT, AP Sports Writer

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Colts receiver Anthony Gonzalez is nearly ready to return to action.

Gonzalez has been out since spraining ligaments in his right knee during a season-opening 14-12 victory over Jacksonville, and the starter opposite Reggie Wayne has not practiced since.

Gonzalez caught 57 passes for 664 yards last season, and he was primed to take over the No. 2 receiving spot after Marvin Harrison was released in the offseason. The non-contact injury derailed those plans, but coach Jim Caldwell said Thursday that Gonzalez could practice this week.

"It's kind of a day to day thing," Caldwell said. "He's been feeling really good. He has not obviously practiced to this point, but we do feel that he's going to start shortly. When that is, I'm not certain."

Safety Bob Sanders is expected to play Sunday at St. Louis after missing all of training camp, all the preseason and the first month of the regular season after surgery on his right knee.

Sanders, the 2007 NFL defensive player of the year, has played in just 43 of 85 games in six NFL seasons because of injuries.

Cornerback Marlin Jackson, a former first-round pick, is not expected back for at least two more weeks after straining the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. Kicker Adam Vinatieri is out with a knee injury.

Starting cornerback Kelvin Hayden, who missed the last three games with a left hamstring injury, and left tackle Charlie Johnson, who sat out the Tennessee game with a left knee injury, are both expected to return this week.

Sanders had no setbacks during Wednesday's practice. He has not played in a game since January, but he is not listed on the team's injury report.

Sanders did not practice Thursday, something coaches have allowed each week in recent years to rest him and help him stay healthy.

Caldwell said Sanders' smarts should help ease his transition back to the field. He said if he's able to play, he'll likely start.

"The mental aspect, I believe, he's been on top of for a while," he said. "He has not missed a meeting. He's been in every single situation he could be involved in. In that regard, we certainly feel he's going to be up to speed."

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