INDIANAPOLIS – The Indianapolis Colts may have to stop New England’s strong running game without Bob Sanders.

The Pro Bowl safety missed Friday’s practice after his surgically repaired right knee stiffened, the second straight week he’s had a setback.

Sanders practiced last Wednesday but returned the next day with a swollen, sore knee that forced him to miss the rest of the week and the Denver game. He could be facing a similar scenario this week since coach Tony Dungy said it was doubtful Sanders would play.

“Stiff, tight, that’s what we expected,” a dejected Sanders said Friday. “I’ve just got to get on a schedule where I practice enough that I can play.”

Sanders had arthroscopic surgery in September and has missed five straight games since a Week 2 victory over Houston. He hoped to be back two weeks ago, but after running said the knee felt “a little unstable.” Last week, Sanders said he felt better and Dungy was optimistic he’d be back for the Denver game.

Instead cornerback Marlin Jackson, a first-round draft pick in 2005, took Sanders’ spot in the secondary.

After Sanders missed practice Friday, Dungy downgraded Sanders’ chances to return even though the injury report listed Sanders as questionable – meaning there was a 50 percent chance he would play.

T.O. downplays report of catnaps in meetings

IRVING, Texas – Terrell Owens downplayed a report Friday that he falls asleep in team meetings.

“As long as I don’t sleep on Sunday,” the Dallas Cowboys receiver said as he left the locker room at the team’s practice facility. As is customary on Friday, he did not conduct interviews.

The receiver said in Friday’s editions of The Dallas Morning News that he informed the Cowboys about a sleeping problem before signing with them.

“It’s nothing new for me to fall asleep in a meeting,” he said.

Owens said the problem dates to the first stop of his career in San Francisco, where he said receivers coach George Stewart thought he was staying up too late.

“When I did get to bed early, I would still get to meetings and fall asleep, and it’s the same thing here,” Owens said.

Owens said he hasn’t been staying out late.

He acknowledged that his sleeping habit irks Cowboys passing game coordinator Todd Haley, who had a run-in with Owens at practice earlier this season.

“At some point, give me a little vet credit,” Owens said. “But I understand (Haley) wants me to be a professional and be a standup guy for the younger guys on the team.”

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said it was an issue of “personal health” that wouldn’t be discussed outside the team.

“I don’t say that as though it’s something that’s irritating at all,” Jones said.

AP-ES-11-03-06 1738EST

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.