INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts today officially began on-field preparations for Sunday's Week 15 contest against the Houston Texans. What were some of the top takeaways on the day?
Here is today's injury report, the first of the week for the Colts:
What a sight for sore eyes.
Colts punter Rigoberto Sanchez made his return to the practice field today, just 16 days after publicly revealing his cancer diagnosis, and 15 days after having surgery to remove a cancerous tumor.
Sanchez was officially labeled a full participant at Wednesday's practice.
The 26-year-old Hawaii product also talked to the media on Wednesday. He said he was going through practice on Nov. 25, the day before Thanksgiving, when he felt something "kind of weird" when warming up for some kickoff drills. Not one to usually complain about various nicks and bruises, Sanchez could tell something was off; after a series of tests, he heard that word nobody ever wants to hear.
"It's one of those things that you never think is going to happen to you," Sanchez said of his cancer diagnosis. "I never thought it was going to happen to me either because I'm young and when you're young you think you can do anything and you're going to be fine for a long time."
Also weighing heavily on Sanchez's mind was the fact his team was just a couple days away from taking on the Tennessee Titans. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the temporary rules put into place for the 2020 season, the Colts wouldn't have had enough time to sign a replacement punter for that game.
So despite the fact he knew he'd be playing through immense pain — and he'd have to give up his kickoff duties for that very reason — Sanchez decided to toughen it out and play that Sunday.
He ended up averaging more than 50 yards on five punts in that game.
"I wasn't going to do that to my team," Sanchez said when asked why he ultimately decided to play against the Titans. "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, 'Okay, I'm going to play. I'm going to do it for my brothers. They need me.' That's what it was."
Sanchez then underwent surgery two days later. His prognosis, he shared Wednesday, is positive — "I'm just grateful that it didn't spread" Sanchez said — and there's even a slight chance he could return to game action for Sunday's game against the Texans.
But, for now, Sanchez, who has missed the last two games, says he's just taking it one day at a time; the Colts also have punter Ryan Allen on their practice squad if needed once again.
The simple fact that Sanchez can keep doing what he loves, he said, is "amazing."
"You never really know," he said. "I guess these are the things that you can't control that come at you unexpectedly and you start thinking, your mind starts playing games and starts thinking the worst. But at the same time, I try to tell myself, 'Look, you're going to be OK. Everybody has your back.'
"Obviously like I said on my post, it's always God's plan. His plan is always bigger than mine," Sanchez continued. "I'm just going to keep fighting and keep going. I've never been one to – if there is an obstacle in front of me I'm just going to stop and lay down. I'm going to keep going one way or another and like I said, I'm just so grateful to talk to you guys right now."
Leonard, Rhodes full participants
Sanchez's return to practice was the ultimate bit of good news for the Colts on Wednesday.
The team also had another encouraging development today, as linebacker Darius Leonard and Xavier Rhodes, both of whom exited last Sunday's win over the Las Vegas Raiders and did not return, were full participants in practice.
Among those with non-rest designations who sat out Wednesday's practice were tight end Mo Alie-Cox, tight end Trey Burton and tackle Anthony Castonzo, all with knee injuries, and quarterback Philip Rivers with his toe injury.
Leonard suffered a back injury with about six minutes left in the fourth quarter of last Sunday's 44-27 win; Rhodes, meanwhile, was slow to get up after tackling wide receiver Henry Ruggs III in the third quarter, and was labeled questionable to return.
The Indianapolis Colts were back on the practice field in Week 15 to begin preparing for the Houston Texans.