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Colts punter Rigoberto Sanchez to play Sunday after removal of cancerous tumor

Indianapolis Colts punter and holder Rigoberto Sanchez (2) underwent surgery earlier this month to remove a cancerous tumor. File Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI
Indianapolis Colts punter and holder Rigoberto Sanchez (2) underwent surgery earlier this month to remove a cancerous tumor. File Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 18 (UPI) -- Less than three weeks after having a cancerous tumor removed, Indianapolis Colts punter Rigoberto Sanchez will return to the field for Sunday's game against the Houston Texans.

Colts head coach Frank Reich told reporters Friday that Sanchez will resume handling kickoff and punting duties this week against the Texans.

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"Great training staff, working with great doctors and guys who are mature," Reich said. "Those three things are all important, and we're very fortunate to have the people that we do."

Sanchez, who declined to reveal what type of cancer he was dealing with, noticed something was off while warming up before practice Nov. 25. He underwent an ultrasound and an MRI, which revealed the tumor.

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Sanchez still played in the Colts' Nov. 29 loss to the Tennessee Titans before having surgery Dec. 1 to remove the cancerous tumor. He then missed Indianapolis' next two games while recovering from the procedure.

"I wasn't going to do that to my team," Sanchez said earlier this week. "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 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."

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Sanchez said doctors informed him that things are looking "pretty good" and his "numbers are definitely lower." The fourth-year punter returned to the Colts' practice facility and was a full participant this week.

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"I'm just fortunate enough to move around all the time, use my body in all sorts of ways," Sanchez said. "It's crazy because I think [Reich] mentioned that if I was doing some kind of desk work, maybe I wouldn't have caught it right away. I'm just fortunate to be young and be able to do what I do, and that's play football here.

"I was just fortunate enough to catch it in time, and after that, doctors took the lead and I just followed. I'm just grateful that they caught it early."

In 11 games this season, Sanchez has punted 31 times for 1,464 yards -- a career-best average of 47.2 yards per punt. He has downed 15 punts inside the 20-yard line, with only three touchbacks.

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