INDIANAPOLIS -- Injured Indianapolis Colts safety Bob Sanders, running back Joseph Addai and cornerback Kelvin Hayden all practiced Wednesday. They could be healthy enough to play Sunday against archrival New England.
"I expect that they will all be out there [Wednesday], and if all goes well, I expect them to play Sunday," coach Tony Dungy said before practice.
None of the three was listed on the team's practice report, meaning the three players participated in all drills.
The Colts held out of practice two other starters -- Pro Bowl receiver Reggie Wayne and cornerback Marlin Jackson -- with knee injuries. Wayne was hurt late in Monday night's loss at Tennessee when another player rolled into his leg, but both players finished the game.
The Colts do not provide injury updates after practice.
Dungy said he wanted to see how Sanders, Addai and Hayden each responds when they return to the team complex Thursday morning, and even then the Colts may limit their playing time.
Sanders, the 2007 Defensive Player of the Year, is the emotional leader. He's missed the last five games with a high ankle sprain, an injury that typically takes four to six weeks to heal. He also had arthroscopic knee surgery during his absence. Indianapolis has not said which knee Sanders had repaired, but Dungy has explained the knee injury did not delay Sanders' return.
Second-year safety Melvin Bullitt has played well enough in Sanders' absence that the Colts (3-4) are now trying to make him a regular part of the defense.
"I don't know that Bob will be able to play 60 plays right out of the box," Dungy said. "But we've got to find ways to get Melvin in the game."
Sanders has a long history of injuries. He played in a career-high 15 games last season and has been the subject of a strange even-year hex. He missed a combined total of 22 games in 2004 and 2006, compared with a total of three games in 2005 and 2007.
Addai, who made his first Pro Bowl last season, went down with a hamstring injury early in the Baltimore game Oct. 12. There was speculation Addai tore the hamstring and could miss up to a month, something Dungy denied.
Now, three weeks later, Addai could be back in the lineup. He was replaced by former 1,000-yard runner Dominic Rhodes, who has helped invigorate a previously stagnant ground game. Rhodes sat out Wednesday's practice with an ankle injury.
Hayden missed the last three games after tearing the meniscus in his left knee and said Wednesday he felt good enough to play this week.
"I'll practice today and see how it feels," he said. "It should be a good test. I don't think I'm 100 percent, but I think I'm close enough to 100 percent to play."
The returns couldn't come at a better time.
Indy has lost two straight, fallen four games behind unbeaten Tennessee in the AFC South and begins a tough stretch against New England on Sunday night. Then Indy visits Pittsburgh, hosts Houston and has consecutive road trips to San Diego and Cleveland.
Linebacker Freddy Keiaho, second in tackles (68), was limited in practice with a knee injury.