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vs. N.Y. Giants
When: 8:25 p.m. Sunday
Radio: 1190 AM
Associated Press
Colts safety Melvin Bullitt came into the season as a backup but has started 21 games over the past two seasons.

Bullitt ready to step in for Sanders

Colts safety used to taking over for oft-injured star


– Melvin Bullitt wasn’t fazed upon learning he’ll be the Colts’ starting strong safety. He’s been in this position too many times to be flustered.

“I’ve looked at it as being a starter since walking in for training camp,” Bullitt said Wednesday. “I’ve always prepared as if I’ll be the starter. I never took my mindset off being one. That’s how I’ve prepared for as long as I’ve played; … so you’re always ready.”

Bullitt has started 21 games over the past two seasons, as Bob Sanders, 29, has suffered myriad injuries. Sanders, the 2007 Defensive Player of the Year, went down again during Sunday’s 34-24 loss at Houston, this time with a torn biceps tendon in his right arm.

He has played only 27 of 64 games over the past four regular seasons.

Sports injury physician Dr. James Andrews performed surgery Wednesday on Sanders, and he remains on the active roster as the Colts monitor his rehabilitation.

“Any timetable for the possibility of a return remains undetermined,” a statement from the Colts read.

Sanders suffered the same injury to his other arm last year, and it halted his season after six games. Considering Sanders is slated to earn about $5 million next season, if he doesn’t return this year, he might have played his last snap for the Colts.

Enter Bullitt, a 25-year-old special-teams captain, who has 99 solo tackles, five interceptions and six passes defensed over the past two years. An undrafted free agent out of Texas A&M, Bullitt has proved his worth in four seasons with the Colts.

Now, one of the best backups in the NFL has been thrust back into the spotlight, as the Colts prepare to play host to the New York Giants, who are coming off a 31-18 victory over Carolina.

“It helps a lot (having started before) because any time you’ve had experience doing something, it’s always going to help you,” said Bullitt, whose special-teams role will be reduced. “With this situation, it’s definitely unfortunate for Bob, but we’ve got to keep moving along and keep getting better.”

Sanders’ teammates expressed confidence that Bullitt can do the job ably, as he has in the past.

“The presence (Sanders) brings to the defense is going to be missed,” cornerback Kelvin Hayden said. “Guys understand that, but it’s ‘next man up,’ and we’ve just got to continue moving forward and progressing as a defense.”

The other significant injury suffered by Indianapolis on Sunday was wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez’s high ankle sprain. Gonzalez, who missed all but one game last year, had one catch for 12 yards against the Texans.

“He’s out this week, that’s what I know,” said coach Jim Caldwell, who is still able to look to receivers Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie, the latter coming off a game with 11 catches for 163 yards and a touchdown.

In the meantime, the Colts signed defensive back DaJuan Morgan, who had appeared in 28 games with Kansas City, accruing 34 tackles and one fumble recovery. He was a 2008 third-round pick. The Colts waived offensive lineman Joe Reitz.