INDIANAPOLIS —After their performances three weeks ago against the Arizona Cardinals, Pro Football Focus named Indianapolis Colts cornerback Rashaan Melvin and punter Rigoberto Sanchez to their Week 2 “Team of the Week."
Their inclusion was apparently no fluke.
Now four games into the regular season, PFF this week has used its various methods of analysis to create a "2017 First Quarter All-Pro Team," an effort by writer Sam Monson to figure out who he'd consider the best of the best if the season were to end today.
And getting recognition on that list were none other than Melvin and Sanchez.
Melvin was named a second team selection at the "flex" position on defense — which "gives us the flexibility to reward the player that best deserves it across multiple positions, rather than shoehorning in somebody just to fit a slot receiver or cornerback role," Monson writes — while Sanchez was an honorable mention selection at punter.
Melvin has been playing the best football of his career now in his fifth year in the NFL, and second with the Colts. When top cornerback Vontae Davis went down with a groin injury during the preseason, it was Melvin who was tasked with taking over that spot, and he's seemingly gotten better each and every week.
In that Week 2 game against the Cardinals, he tied safety Matthias Farley for the team lead with seven tackles and two passes defensed. Then, the next week, in a win over the Cleveland Browns, Melvin had two key third-quarter interceptions — the first picks of his career — and also totaled two solo tackles and four passes defensed, which led the team and marked a single-game career-high.
He became the first Colts player to intercept at least two passes in a game since Mike Adams on Oct. 8, 2015.
Melvin currently leads the Colts with seven passes defensed, and he's fourth with 19 total tackles. His two interceptions is second to rookie safety Malik Hooker's three.
Head coach Chuck Pagano said Melvin's presence has been "unbelievable."
"He stepped up big time. He played well a year ago for us," Pagano said. "You can just see this kid growing and gaining confidence with every snap and every game."
Sanchez, meanwhile, has been solid both as a punter and as a kickoff specialist for Indianapolis.
Through four games, Sanchez, a rookie, has punted the ball 26 times for 1,175 yards — an average of 45.2 yards per punt — with a net average of 43.6 yards. Just one of his punts has gone for a touchback, while nine have been downed inside the 20-yard line.
Perhaps Sanchez's best attribute as a punter is he doesn't give a returner much of an opportunity to do anything with the ball; just five of his punts have been returned for a total of 21 yards — or an average of 4.2 yards per punt, with a long of 8 yards. Chalk that up to good kicking and good coverage.
On kickoffs, just five of Sanchez's kicks have been returned for 99 total yards — or an average of 19.8 yards. Remember, the alternative is a touchback, which puts the ball at the 25-yard line, so those extra 5.2 yards mean a lot in the ever-important field position game.