Bullitt plays and signs without using right thumb

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. -- The cast has shrunk, gradually, but it's still a cast.

Melvin Bullitt, Bob Sanders' backup, is starting at strong safety in practice, though it's been Matt Giordano starting in games thus far.

Bullitt is hoping to be cleared to play soon but the Colts are being cautious with him, as they are with all their injured players.

Bullitt was in the team's autograph tent on a recent morning mingling with fans and doing his best with an immobilized right thumb. I asked him to sign a blank page in my notebook so I could see for myself. A lot of guys with full use of all five fingers do a lot worse than his "MB33."

He uses his index finger and middle finger and said "whatever it looks like, that's what you get."

As for playing football:

"It's an adjustment, just like with anything else you have to learn to use all your other assets a little better," Bullitt said of the thumb. "You've got to live with it and keep playing."

Bullitt said the break was in three different places and required two screws and was judged to be a four-to-six week injury. He was back at practice after a week. He doesn't know yet if the screws will eventually be removed.

"Melvin has practiced well. He's doing what he needs to do on the practice field," coach Tony Dungy said. "We may get him in some playing time against Buffalo [on Aug. 24]. He's getting smaller splints and casts every week. So, it's coming along and he's doing a good job of just hanging in there mentally."