Bob Sanders looks like he'll be healthy enough to play before mid-October.

Rookie defensive tackle Terrance Taylor and running back Mike Hart hope they'll have new jobs by then.

The two Michigan alums, Taylor and Hart, and seventh-round draft pick Jaimie Thomas were among 21 players cut Saturday by the Colts _ including seven who had been drafted since 2006.

The biggest question Saturday was whether Sanders would open the season on the physically unable to perform list, which would have kept him out of action for the first six weeks. Sanders avoided making that list, an indication the Colts expect the 2007 NFL defensive player of the year to return sooner than mid-October from his offseason knee surgery.

Team officials were not available for comment Saturday.

The Colts didn't announce their moves until nearly 3 1/2 hours after the NFL's deadline had passed.

There were several surprises, including the release of Thomas, Taylor, a fourth-round pick in April, and Hart, a sixth-rounder last year.

Taylor was expected to help beef up the Colts defensive line, but the 319-pound rookie never quite fit in. He didn't play at all in Indy's third preseason game and didn't appear until the second half of Thursday's preseason finale.

Hart, Michigan's career rushing leader, slid through the draft in 2008 because of a poor time in the 40-yard dash and his smallish size. The problem in Indy was staying healthy. Though the 5-foot-9, 206-pound running back made the team last season, he sustained a season-ending knee injury in October and was slowed in training camp with an ankle injury.

Thomas was expected to solidify a young offensive line but found himself caught in a numbers crunch, which the Colts expected.

Cornerback Dante Hughes, a third-round pick in 2007, and center Steve Justice, who started one game as a rookie last season, also were waived. Offensive tackle Michael Toudouze, a fifth-round pick in 2006, second-year defensive end Marcus Howard, a fifth-round pick, and longtime backup defensive end Josh Thomas were released, too.

Indy waived running backs Lance Ball and Walter Mendenhall; receivers Sam Giguere, John Matthews, Brett McDermott and Taj Smith; defensive tackles John Gill and Adrian Grady; guard Tom Pestock and linebacker Michael Tauiliili.

Defensive backs Nick Graham and Travis Key and tight end Jamie Petrowski were waived with injuries.