Despite the farewell columns, video tributes, and burial of his career this week, Colts’ safety Bob Sanders may not be done just yet.

Without Sanders' return for the 2006-07 playoffs the Indianapolis Colts would likely still be looking for a Lombardi Trophy.

Team president Bill Polian recently said the Colts will keep Sanders on their 53-man roster and that he is “hoping and anticipating he’ll be back some time before the season ends.”

There’s no guarantee he’ll return, but even a chance makes it worth the gamble.

No, he hasn’t earned the big contract extension the Colts gave him following the 2007 season when he was named Defensive Player of the Year.

Yes, his backup, Melvin Bullitt, is a fine and capable player who has proven his worth.

No disrespect to Bullitt, but he’s no Bob Sanders.

Sanders brings a different dynamic to the Colts’ defense – always has. He instills fear in opponents. When Sanders hits, forward progress stops … and sometimes consciousness with it.

One of the Colts’ biggest deficiencies during the Peyton Manning Era has been run defense. In Manning’s 12 seasons with the team, the Colts’ run defense has ranked 20th or worse nine times.

The Colts’ run defense has ranked in the top half of the league only twice with Manning at the helm. Sanders played in at least 14 games in each of those seasons.

In 2006 the Colts run defense was the worst in the league. In fact, the 5.33 rushing yards per attempt Indianapolis gave up that season was the most the NFL had seen since 1961.

Sanders' big hit on Cedric Benson in Super Bowl XLI was a big momentum shifter early in the game.

By no coincidence Sanders played in only four games that season.

However, he returned for the playoffs and the Colts’ run defense pulled off a remarkable 180. Sanders played a big part of that with 22 tackles, four passes defended, two interceptions, one forced fumble, and one crushing blow to Cedric Benson in the Super Bowl.

The Colts finished that playoff run, which culminated in a Super Bowl championship, with the best postseason defense (238.5 yards per game) and second-best postseason run defense (82.8 yards per game, down from 173 yards per game in the regular season).

Using up a roster spot for Sanders is a risk. The Colts desperately need to find a diamond in the rough to provide some depth – on the offensive line and secondary in particular.

However, should the Colts make the playoffs and No. 21 is in uniform, it will be well worth the gamble.