“Like I said before, it’s always God’s plan and it will always be bigger than my plans,” Sanchez wrote. “So grateful to be surrounded by doctors that helped me catch the cancerous tumor before it spread all over my body. I will be getting surgery on Tuesday and I know that it will not be an easy bump on the road, but I know I have my amazing wife supporting me along with family, coaches, and friends reaching out.”
The Colts set about seeking a temporary replacement, with hopes that he could return at some point this season. The 7-4 Colts have five regular season games remaining and are leading in the race for the final AFC wild-card spot.
“I think they have to evaluate how the operation, the surgery goes today, then they’ll go from there,” Colts special teams coordinator Bubba Ventrone said Tuesday (via the Indy Star). “We won’t have any answers here in the near future, but we’re hopeful if we can handle our business moving forward that maybe we will get him later on, but it’s too early to tell.”
Sanchez received the diagnosis late last week and played Sunday against the Tennessee Titans though he only punted, which Coach Frank Reich attributed afterward to a “physical issue.” Rookie Rodrigo Blankenship, who kicks field goals and extra points for the Colts, also handled kickoffs.
“Yeah, Rigo is dealing with a physical issue that we have to get further evaluated,” Reich told reporters. “Rod did a nice job stepping up. I give Rigo a lot of credit for the way he punted today and for really coming through for us when we needed him the way that he did. Then Rod, when Rigo wasn’t able to kickoff, Rod stepped in there and did a great job.”
The 26-year-old player from Chico, Calif., has handled kickoffs and punts for the Colts since 2017, when he set an NFL record for net punting average by a rookie (42.6 yards). He ranks ninth in the NFL in gross yards per punt this season with a career-high average of 47.2 yards.
Sanchez punted five times for an average of 50.8 yards against the Titans.
“Unfortunately, there are things you can’t control in life and this is one of them,” he wrote on Instagram. “No plans or preparation would have gotten me ready for this kind of adversity, but like I told my wife, we can’t flinch. Keep striving to come back stronger than ever.
“Makes me sick that I’ll have to miss some time playing beside my brothers, but I know they will hold it down.”