INDIANAPOLIS — Colts President Bill Polian is just looking for a few good replacements.
It's getting tougher every day.
On Saturday, Indianapolis put former first-round pick Anthony Gonzalez on injured reserve because of a posterior cruciate ligament injury in his left knee, and left five other players, including running backs Joseph Addai and Mike Hart, behind as the team flew to Philadelphia.
The injury list is so long that even Polian has had to revise the team's long-held mantra about injuries.
"It's next man up, and right now, we're looking around to see who the next man is," Polian joked as he scouted the Iowa-Indiana game Saturday. "You just have to play through it and hope that the worm turns at some point and we get a little luck as opposed to what we've had over the last seven or eight weeks."
The injury rash has hit every position on the Colts' roster with the exception of one — quarterback.
And it's taking a huge toll.
When the season opened, Indy (5-2) believed it had the most complete receiving corps of the Peyton Manning era. But those four receivers — Austin Collie, Pierre Garcon, Gonzalez and Reggie Wayne — have only been on the field for one game, the season-opener at Houston.
That won't happen again until next season.
For the second straight year, Gonzalez will finish the year on injured reserve — the 12th Colts player to join the list. The good news is it appears he does not need surgery.
"It's just a question of how long it will take to heal," Polian said. "I don't know that surgery is indicated."
Gonzalez was injured Monday night against Houston when he was tackled out of bounds. No penalty was called on the play. Polian said NFL officials reviewed the play, but that he could not discuss publicly the league's response.
But Gonzalez may be the least of Indy's concerns.
He has appeared in only three games since the start of the 2009 season and had five catches for 67 yards this year.
Indy also has lost All-Pro tight end Dallas Clark (wrist) and safety Melvin Bullitt (shoulder).
Other injuries could be even more damaging to the Colts' depth.
With Addai and Hart ailing, the Colts will have only three healthy running backs for Sunday's game — 2009 first-round pick Donald Brown, undrafted rookie Javarris James and Andre Brown, who was promoted from the practice squad to the active roster Saturday.
With blocking tight end Brody Eldridge (elbow) home this weekend, the Colts announced Friday that rookie guard Jacques McClendon would wear No. 80, making him an eligible replacement at tight end.
"It's been tough, and it's not anything we've ever experienced before, but you just have to play through it," Polian said.
Linebacker Clint Session and cornerback Justin Tryon also did not travel Saturday.
Session played the second half of Monday night's game with a dislocated right elbow and a broken right forearm. His agent, Harold Lewis, said earlier this week that Session hoped to play against the Eagles. Philip Wheeler will likely reclaim a starting spot with Session out.
Cornerback Justin Tryon also will sit out Sunday after starting Monday night in place of the injured Jerraud Powers.
If there is any sign of hope, it is this: Collie (thumb surgery) and Powers' backup, Jacob Lacey, both practiced Thursday and Friday and traveled with the team. Lacey is trying to return from a foot injury. Both are questionable.
And, of course, Manning is expected to make his 200th consecutive start.
"He certainly makes up for lots of deficiencies," Polian said. "One of the things we've got to do is protect him, and we're doing a pretty good job of that. Our backup people have stepped up and played very well. The problem is in the case with Gonzo and Mike Hart, we're losing them to injury, too, which makes it difficult. But, in my experience, these things do straighten out over time, so hopefully we'll get a little bit of luck over the second half of the season."
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