October 2, 2007
Morris will have surgery
Availability of other injured Colts remains uncertain
By Mike Chappell
More than a quarter-century of experience as an NFL coach has taught Tony Dungy to proceed cautiously when injuries are involved.
That's why he's preparing for a worst-case scenario in the aftermath of the Indianapolis Colts' injury-marred 38-20 win over Denver on Sunday. Five front-line players exited the game with injuries, and at least one definitely won't play when Tampa Bay visits Sunday afternoon.
Strong-side linebacker Rob Morris is scheduled for surgery today to repair a torn tendon in his left knee. His season likely is over.
Uncertainty hovers over the other four prominent players injured in the game: eight-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Marvin Harrison (bruised left knee), former Pro Bowl safety Bob Sanders (bruised ribs), running back Joseph Addai (bruised shoulder) and tight end Ben Utecht (concussion).
Until doctors clear the ailing players, Dungy will follow instincts engrained in him since he first became an NFL assistant coach with Pittsburgh in 1981. "If as coaches we were planning, we'll plan for all of them to be out,'' he said.
Dungy and team president Bill Polian were to meet with the medical staff Monday night for an update. On his weekly radio show prior to meeting with team physicians, Polian said Morris was "going to have surgery (today), so I think that's probably it for him this year."
"All the rest . . . are bumps and bruises type things,'' he added. "I think those will be Wednesday, Thursday, maybe even Friday decisions. But that's the National Football League. That's the way it is."
Polian said Addai could have returned to the game in the fourth quarter if the situation had warranted. And at halftime, Harrison, who was injured late in the first quarter when Broncos linebacker D.J. Williams rolled up on his legs from behind, told Polian he could have returned.
Team doctors, though, insisted on holding Harrison out.
"I don't think it's a long-term thing. Marvin didn't think so," Polian said. "At halftime, it didn't seem to be that serious an issue."
Any injury involving Harrison is an issue. The team's career leader in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns has missed only six of 180 regular-season starts because of injury. Harrison missed the final four games of the 1998 season with a separated shoulder and one start in 2003 (hamstring) and '05 (non-displaced bone in his right hand).
"It just seems like he always just gets up and shakes it off," said Aaron Moorehead, who replaced Harrison in the lineup against Denver and would do so again against the Buccaneers. "He may come to the sideline for a play and then he's back in."
The Colts might have to make a roster move or two if several players are forced to miss Sunday's game. The absence of Harrison and Utecht -- Polian said the latter is "doubtful'' for the Bucs game -- would be compounded by rookie wide receiver Roy Hall being out with a separated left shoulder.
It's possible the team will have to add a receiver (Craphonso Thorpe) or tight end (Gijon Robinson) off the practice squad.
"If everybody is going to be out, we might have to," Dungy said.
"Hopefully it doesn't come to that."
However the injury situation unfolds, the Colts will proceed with whichever players are available. That's what Dungy did at halftime against the Broncos when he was informed he would be without Harrison, Sanders, Morris and Utecht for the second half.
"You sit down and say, 'Hey, Bryan (Fletcher), you're going in. Aaron, you're in . . . Rocky (Boiman) and Matt (Giordano),' " Dungy said. "They did a great job.''