Indianapolis Colts punter Rigoberto Sanchez announced Monday that he was diagnosed with cancer and will miss some time while undergoing treatment.
Sanchez, who played on Sunday against the Tennessee Titans, received the diagnosis before the game and still came through for his team.
NFL news: Indianapolis Colts P Rigoberto Sanchez to undergo cancer treatment
In a statement, Sanchez said he would undergo surgery on Tuesday to remove the tumor. He will miss Week 13 against the Houston Texans and couldn’t provide a timetable for his return to the field.
The Colts do not have another punter on their active roster or practice squad, so they will need to sign a free agent. It’s made more complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic, with recent protocols will make finding a replacement more difficult.
Before Week 12, the NFL notified teams that all facilities must be closed on Monday and Tuesday. With COVID-19 cases surging and outbreaks becoming more common, the league hopes that this effort prevents further spread of the virus.
NFL rules also require a newly-acquired player to go through a six-day COVID-19 entry process. As a result, there wouldn’t be enough time for Indianapolis to conduct workouts with free-agent punters. Instead, the team must simply sign an option they trust and hope for the best.
Rigoberto Sanchez stats and NFL career
Sanchez was signed as an undrafted free agent out of the 2017 NFL Draft. Despite long odds of making an NFL roster, he earned the starting job as a rookie. Since taking over as the team’s punter, the Hawaii alum has been sharp.
He was named to the Pro Football Writer Association’s All-Rookie Team in 2017, averaging 44.8 yards per punt with 33.3% of his kicks landing inside the 20-yard line. He has also been the team’s kickoff man for all four seasons.
Before his diagnosis, Sanchez was enjoying the best season of his NFL career. Across 11 games, he averaged 47.2 yards per attempt and put a career-best 48.39% of his punts inside the 20-yard line.
Indianapolis Colts schedule
While this isn’t a huge blow for the Indianapolis Colts, it will impact their defense. Rigoberto Sanchez helped pin opponents back deep in their own territory and was key to the team’s success on kickoffs.
Sitting one game back in the AFC South, the Colts enter a critical stretch in their schedule to determine if they are a playoff team.
- Week 13: @ Houston Texans
- Week 14: @ Las Vegas Raiders
- Week 15: vs. Houston Texans
- Week 16: @ Pittsburgh Steelers
- Week 17: vs. Jacksonville Jaguars