I started this as a reply in the Deltha O'Neal thread, but it didn't seem appropriate there. The question is: who is the replacement for James Sanders at safety? Spann or Lewis Sanders (or even Ray Ventrone)? The obvious answer seems to be Lewis Sanders, if for no other reason than it will help the announcers, who need all the help they can get.
I think Lewis Sanders has played well this year. Covers well in the short zone, hits hard, good against the run, good against tight ends. Doesn't seem to have the range to play deep against a fast receiver, but he fills the Chad Scott position nicely. I expect they extend this guy for a couple years.
Spann might have better speed but doesn't have the heft to play Lewis Sanders run-stopping role. At 210, Sanders is 25 pounds heavier than Spann and the stoutest DB available this Sunday. Alternatively, they could put Spann at FS and Meriweather at SS and leave O'Neal off the field altogether. But I don't think they'll do that. For all that O'Neal has been juked out of his shoes, I'm not sure Sanders would do any better against top receivers in man coverage.
Looking back: of the three veteran corners competing to make the team, Bryant was cut before the season, Webster was on and off the team and finally placed on injured reserve (is he still there? did he get an injury settlement?). Lewis Sanders is the only one to stick and he looks like a keeper.
Edited to add: according to the Globe
, it is Sanders:
With safety James Sanders (abdomen) not practicing this week and listed as doubtful tomorrow, cornerback Lewis Sanders could be thrust into a starting role at safety.
"Yeah, it's looking that way. I've been doing it all year. Injuries happen. I just have to step in and do my job," said Lewis Sanders.
Lewis Sanders has seen more time at safety the last few weeks in sub packages and filled in when James Sanders had to leave last Sunday's win over Seattle. Lewis Sanders, a nine-year veteran, said he's comfortable as a safety valve.