Rigoberto Sanchez

Colts Cut Roster Down To 53

Indianapolis has made a couple headline moves, but, most notably, succeeded in trimming their roster down to 53 players today. Here are the moves that helped them get down to the limit today:

Activated from active/physically unable to perform:

Released:

Waived:

Placed on IR:

The biggest stories of the day for the Colts come in the linebacking corps. In addition to adding star linebacker Leonard off the PUP, Indianapolis acquired second-year player Grant Stuard in a trade with Tampa Bay today. Stuard was primarily a special teamer with the Buccaneers last year, playing in every game as a rookie. He’ll go from one stacked linebacker room to another, likely backing up Leonard upon his arrival.

The Colts have quite an interesting rookie class. A sixth-round defensive tackle, Brooks is the only drafted rookie not to make the final roster besides sixth-round tight end Andrew Ogletree who will start his NFL career on injured reserve. None of this is spectacular, though. The interesting part is that Indianapolis will roster four undrafted rookies to start the 2022 NFL season.

Former SMU safety Trevor Denbow finds his way onto the initial 53 after leading the NFL this preseason with five special teams tackles. Cornerback Dallis Flowers can also thank his special teams value as his athleticism was supplemented by a 53-yard kickoff return to help him make the team out of Pitt State. Former Cornhusker JoJo Domann joins Leonard and Stuard in the linebackers room. And the French-Fries offensive line combination stays alive as Wesley French makes the final roster out of Western Michigan.

There were a number of other players who have special teams’ ability to thank for their roster spot in addition to Denbow and Flowers. Running back Deon Jackson played on all punt/kick return/coverage units for the Colts last year, earning him a tightly contested roster spot over Lindsay and Williams. Cornerback Tony Brown was the team’s highest-graded special teams player in the preseason, according to Pro Football Focus, and safety Rodney Thomas II played the third-most special teams snaps on the team.

Finally, the biggest performer of the Colts’ preseason was likely quarterback Sam Ehlinger whose stellar preseason led Indianapolis to roster three quarterbacks going into the season. The former-Longhorn’s impressive preseason play helped him earn a spot on the initial roster despite the Colts already rostering starter Matt Ryan and one of the league’s top backup quarterbacks in Nick Foles.

The Colts will have the opportunity tomorrow to announce any moves to form their 16-man practice squad. Players cut today who have not vested will have to clear waivers before returning to the team.

Colts P Rigoberto Sanchez Tears Achilles

AUGUST 24: Testing confirmed the veteran punter indeed sustained an Achilles tear, according to the Colts. In all likelihood, Sanchez will miss all of the 2022 season.

AUGUST 23: On the verge of starting his sixth season as the Colts’ punter, Rigoberto Sanchez may instead need to log extensive rehab time. The veteran specialist suffered an Achilles injury in practice Tuesday, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets.

While the Colts are waiting for official word, this is believed to be a tear for Sanchez. The former UDFA out of Hawaii has also served as Indianapolis’ kickoff man throughout his career.

Sanchez went down while running sprints at the end of practice, according to CBS4’s Mike Chappell (on Twitter). That is certainly an unusual way to lose a specialist. More testing will take place Wednesday, per the Indianapolis Star’s Joel Erickson (Twitter link), but the likelihood the Colts will need a new punter appears high. Sanchez’s dual-threat contributions also stand to make him more difficult to replace for the Colts.

Taking over for Pat McAfee as a rookie in 2017, Sanchez has missed just two games. Both came in 2020, when he underwent surgery to remove a cancerous tumor. Sanchez returned weeks after that procedure. Last season marked a reduction in yards per punt for the veteran, whose average came in at 44.5. The 28-year-old punter was not in danger of losing his job, however, as the Colts have him signed to a four-year, $11.6MM extension — a deal that runs through 2024.

Indianapolis, which signed Ryan Allen to replace Sanchez two years ago, will likely hold a workout to determine a fill-in option soon.

Colts P Rigoberto Sanchez Will Play In Week 15

Dec. 18: The Colts will indeed have their primary punter and kickoff specialist back in action this weekend, per Joel A. Erickson of the Indianapolis Star (via Twitter). Sanchez’s could be key for an Indy squad that is neck-and-neck with the Titans in the AFC South.

Dec. 17: After undergoing surgery to remove a cancerous tumor earlier this month, Colts punter Rigoberto Sanchez returned to practice this week. In fact, there’s a chance he could end up seeing the field this weekend, as head coach Frank Reich said he’s holding out hope that the 26-year-old can play against the Texans (via ESPN).

Sanchez, a former undrafted free agent out of Hawaii, burst on the scene when he earned PFWA All-Rookie Team honors during the 2017 campaign. He didn’t miss a game for the Colts up to Week 12 of this season, when he had a season-high in punts (five) and punting yards (254). That performance came only days after the 26-year-old received his diagnose.

“I wasn’t going to do that to my team,” Sanchez said of potentially missing that Week 12 contest (via ESPN’s Mike Wells). “It’s all about the team. At the end of the day, I don’t think they would have been able to get a punter in in time, and it wasn’t going to be any worse. That was already worst-case scenario. I was going to fight through the pain, whatever it was. No need to make a bigger deal than it is. I was going to get surgery Tuesday already, so I was like, ‘Can it get any worse?’ I asked the doctor if it could get any worse and he said, ‘No.’ So then I’m like, ‘OK, I’m going to play. I’m going to do it for my brothers. They need me.’ That’s what it was.”

Ryan Allen has filled in for Sanchez over the past two weeks, with the veteran compiling a net average of 36.7 yards…10.5 yards behind Sanchez’s 2020 numbers. Before long, whether it’s this weekend or next, Sanchez should resume his punting and kickoff duties.

“I was overwhelmed throughout this crazy process of ups and downs mentally and all of it, but it helped out so much having everybody by my side — family members reaching out, friends, you name it,” Sanchez said.

Colts P Rigoberto Sanchez Undergoes Cancer Surgery

Rigoberto Sanchez punted in the Colts’ Week 12 game against the Titans, doing so despite receiving a cancer diagnosis. Informed late last week he had developed a cancerous tumor, Sanchez opted to play in Sunday’s home game.

Following the game, Sanchez addressed his more pressing issue by undergoing surgery. The fourth-year Indianapolis punter announced Tuesday the operation was successful (Twitter link).

So grateful to be surrounded by doctors that helped me catch the cancerous tumor before it spread all over my body,” Sanchez said (via Instagram). “Unfortunately, there are things you can’t control in life and this is one of them. No plans or preparation would have gotten me ready for this kind of adversity, but like I told my wife, we can’t flinch. Keep striving to come back stronger than ever.

Makes me sick that I’ll have to miss some time playing beside my brothers, but I know they will hold it down.”

Sanchez, 26, did not reveal the nature of the cancer. Despite the Colts losing Sunday, Sanchez averaged 50.8 yards per punt on five boots. He also attempted an onside kick. Sanchez has been Indianapolis’ punter since the start of the 2017 season, arriving as a UDFA to take over for the retired Pat McAfee and kicking in every game since. The Colts gave Sanchez an extension in 2019; he is signed through the 2023 season.

Colts Sign Rigoberto Sanchez To Extension

The Colts have signed punter Rigoberto Sanchez to a contract extension, according to a team announcement. Prior to the deal, Sanchez was slated to hit the open market following the 2019 season. Now, he’s under contract for four additional years at a total of $11.6MM with $3MM fully guaranteed, according to ESPN.com’s Field Yates (Twitter link).

Sanchez, a University of Hawaii product, averaged 44.8 yards per boot in college. He’s maintained a similar average (45.3 yards per punt) over the last two years with the Colts while appearing in every single game. Thanks in large part to Sanchez and Adam Vinatieri, the Colts had one of the league’s best special teams units in 2018.

The retirement of Pat McAfee left the Colts with some questions at the punter position, but they haven’t missed a beat thanks to the emergence of Sanchez. Now, the youngster is set to be in the fold for years to come.

Colts Sign 18 Undrafted Players

The Colts announced the signing of 18 undrafted players, bringing their roster to the 90-man max. Here’s the full list:

Sanchez has experience in both kicking and punting. Last year at Hawaii, he averaged 44.6 yards per punt and nailed all 13 of his field goal tries. According to Stephen Holder of the Indy Star (on Twitter), Sanchez received a $12K bonus, which is rather high for a kicker.

Griffey is the son of baseball great Ken Griffey Jr. The wide receiver had 23 catches for 382 yards and two scores in his final season at Arizona.

Walker is Temple’s all-time leader in completions, passing yards, and touchdowns. In 2016, he threw for 3,295 yards with 22 touchdowns against 13 interceptions. His yardage and TD totals marked a career high.