Next men up for Colts

Posted by ESPN.com’s Paul Kuharsky

The Colts lost strongside linebacker Tyjuan Hagler, cornerback Marlin Jackson and safety Bob Sanders for the season with injuries this week.

[Update: Adam Schefter reports Sanders has a torn biceps tendon that will end his season.]

The team also announced news Wednesday that receiver Anthony Gonzalez just had surgery and Mike Chappell also reports Kelvin Hayden may miss up to four weeks with his knee injury.

Indianapolis may be the best next-man-up team in the league, and it’s a testament to their depth.

Here’s a quick review of the guys who will be expected to do more with those holes in the lineup

Strongside linebacker Philip Wheeler: He’s a bit bigger than Hagler and was the presumed starter through the offseason and training camp. He couldn’t hold on to the job then, however. I did this entry on Wheeler back in June. A lot of Colts linebackers, like weakside starter Clint Session, have started off a bit slowly but really blossomed with some time in the system. The hope is that’s the case for Wheeler now.

Cornerback Tim Jennings: Rookies Jerraud Power and Jacob Lacey are in line to start and they’ve played very well in extensive opportunities. The third guy, Tim Jennings, hasn’t been as good and the fourth guy, T.J. Rushing is known as a returner, not a defensive back. Maybe the Texans to try get the Colts into their nickel and to do what they can to go after Jennings.

Strong safety Melvin Bullitt: He’s not the physical presence of Sanders, but Bullitt’s played a lot with all of Sanders’ injuries. He’s a fine player who will show up in the right spots and make plays. I can’t ever recall watching a play and thinking he looked bad.

Receiver Pierre Garcon: After a big start Garcon’s come back to earth a bit the last few games. The Colts would benefit from him regaining his confidence and playing as he did early in the season. Even if he doesn’t, with Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark and rookie Austin Collie producing, the team’s done better than many expected without Gonzalez, who’s been out since suffering a knee injury early in the season opener.