INDIANAPOLIS —Outstanding punting has been a hallmark of the Indianapolis Colts' special teams units for years, but with those duties being handed off to an undrafted rookie heading into the 2017 regular season, it's oftentimes difficult to project just what you're going to get.
And through nine weeks, it's been crystal clear that with Rigoberto Sanchez, it's same old, same old for the Colts and special teams coordinator Tom McMahon.
Sanchez has put together a sensational first season in the NFL for Indianapolis, and this week he received a little recognition for his efforts, as he was named to Pro Football Focus' "Mid-Season NFL All-Rookie Team."
"This team comes from our exhaustive All-22 review process and the play by play grading of every player on every team in the NFL, giving you the most comprehensive analysis of who the top players really are anywhere on the planet," PFF's Nathan Jahnke wrote in describing the selected group of players, which you can find in its entirety by clicking here.
But here's what PFF wrote about Sanchez's rookie campaign, specifically:
*Punter: Rigoberto Sanchez, Indianapolis Colts
Only 26 percent of Sanchez kicks have been returned this season despite only one kick ending as a touchback. His rate is the second-lowest in the league. 20 times he has pinned opponents within their 20-yard line which is tied for second-most among punters.*
In all, Sanchez, who also handles kickoff duties for the Colts, has punted 50 times on the year for 2,272 yards, which averages out to 45.4 yards per punt — or a net average of 42.8 yards. His net punting average ranks seventh in the NFL. Opponents are also averaging just 5.3 yards per punt return against the Colts, which is the sixth-lowest figure in the league.
"For a rookie, he's a great pro," Colts head coach Chuck Pagano said of Sanchez. "He spends countless time on task working at his craft. Vinny (Adam Vinatieri) has done a great job with him. Tom McMahon has done a great job with him as far as mentoring him. Again, he's really focused. He's obviously got leg talent. He can control returners."
Sanchez is the only Colts rookie on this particular PFF list. Other AFC South Division selections include Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson and linebacker Zach Cunningham, and Tennessee Titans kick/punt returner Adoree' Jackson.