INDIANAPOLIS – Until Rigoberto Sanchez returns, Ryan Allen is the Indianapolis Colts’ punter.
The team sought an experienced veteran to temporarily replace Sanchez. They not only found one, but added a punter with championship pedigree and ties to special teams coordinator Bubba Ventrone.
Allen’s eight-year career includes six seasons, four Super Bowl appearances and three world championships with the New England Patriots. From 2015-17, Ventrone was a special teams assistant with the Patriots.
Allen was signed to the Colts’ practice squad but will be added to the active roster for Sunday’s game at Houston. Teams are allowed to elevate two practice squad players to the active roster on game day.
The need for a punter arose when Sanchez underwent surgery Tuesday to remove a cancerous tumor. He’s resting at home and “the prognosis is positive,’’ according to coach Frank Reich.
“We’re hopeful and we’re hopeful it’s not months (for a return). I don’t know, this is out of my league, but the reports we’re getting are very positive.’’
While Sanchez recovers, the Colts will turn to Allen. He as appeared in 121 games, including the playoffs, with the Tennessee Titans, Atlanta Falcons and Patriots and averaged 45.2 yards on 445 career punts.
Allen, who entered the league with the Patriots as an undrafted rookie in 2013, has spent time on the Titans’ active roster and practice squad this season. In his only appearance, he averaged 50.5 yards on eight punts in the team’s week 9 win over the Chicago Bears.
Allen is precisely what the Colts were looking for when they learned they were going to have to replace Sanchez.
“We love coaching him and we anticipate him being back hopefully soon,’’ Ventrone said. “As far as replacing him, you’re not going to replace a guy that is that talented.
“But we have to find a guy that is hopefully experienced and has the ability to come into our system quickly.’’
The defense received a major boost Thursday when Denico Autry was activated off the reserve/COVID-19 list. He has missed the last two games after testing positive for the coronavirus and being placed on the list Nov. 20.
Autry is the team’s sack leader with 6 and his return comes in time for Sunday’s road game against the Houston Texans.
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.