INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts have tapped into some familiarity to find a replacement punter with ample postseason experience.
Veteran punter Ryan Allen was signed to the Colts practice squad on Thursday, with the likelihood that he gets promoted to the active roster this weekend to fill-in for Rigoberto Sanchez.
Allen, who is a lefty punter, has played in 121 career games (16 postseason), with a career average of 45.2 yards per punt.
The Colts said they wanted to find an experienced punter and Allen is certainly that. Plus, Allen was in New England from 2013-18. Colts special teams coordinator Bubba Ventrone was an assistant special teams coach for the Patriots from 2015-17.
With the Patriots, Allen won a trio of Super Bowls.
Along with playing for New England, the 30-year-old Allen has also kicked for Atlanta (8 games in 2019) and Tennessee (1 game in 2020).
Allen had 8 punts, averaging 50.5 yards and a net of 40 yards, in his 1 game with the Titans this season, back on November 8th.
The other interesting note about this move is that Allen wasn’t signed to the Colts active roster.
That is another indicator of the Colts believing that Sanchez could return this season. With teams allowed to promote 2 practice squad guys each week in 2020 (each player a maximum of 2 times), the Colts can simply call-up Allen each week, while still keeping their active roster as is with the current 53-man group.
Sanchez, who had successful surgery for his cancerous tumor on Tuesday, remains on the active roster.
What else did we learn about the Colts on Thursday?
- Philp Rivers (toe) was back to practice on Thursday after missing Wednesday’s session. Unlike most days, Rivers wasn’t on the field to start Thursday’s practice with fellow quarterback Jacoby Brissett and Jacob Eason though. But after about 10 minutes, Rivers came onto the field with his helmet on. While Rivers and Frank Reich continue to downplay the quarterback’s toe injury, you saw moments on Sunday when it impacted him. Quenton Nelson said on Thursday that Rivers is ‘playing with a really bad problem with his foot.’ Obviously, this will continue to be something to watch as Rivers continues to suit up.
- It’s looking like Le’Raven Clark will get another chance to start at left tackle this Sunday. The Colts have yet to have Anthony Castonzo (knee) or Chaz Green (back) practice this week. If Clark indeed starts against the Texans, this will be the 15th career start for the third-round pick from 2016.
- T.Y. Hilton is going to his second home this weekend. And Texans interim head coach Romeo Crennel has been on the Houston staff since 2014, so he knows what Hilton has done to them. “He has tremendous quickness and speed, he’s hard to cover one-on-one, so most of the time we have to double him to slow him down,” Crennel said earlier this week. “That’s what, in the past, has been successful for us. So we’ll probably have that in the game plan this time.”
- Hilton has played 17 career games against the Texans. He has 90 catches for 1,622 yards and 10 touchdowns. In road games versus Houston, Hilton is averaging an incredible 21.1 yards per receptions and 12.6 yards per target.
- On Thursday morning, the Colts activated DL-Denico Autry from the COVID-19 list. It was a two-week absence for Autry, who is still leading the Colts with 6 sacks this season. As far as DeForest Buckner, his potential return could come this weekend.
- Even though Quenton Nelson isn’t on this week’s injury report, he’s missed some practice time this season with various ailments, including a back injury. “I feel fine,” Nelson said on Thursday when asked about his health. “Ready to go against the Texans this week. Just preparing every day, ready to go.” Nelson did acknowledge that his own individual play, along with the Colts run game, needs to be better. “There’s been some good, there’s been some bad,” Nelson said of his Year Three. “I definitely need to be better. That’s what I’m working on this week, my fundamentals and technique. Hitting everything really hard in my preparation with film work, getting treatment and just going out there and trying to play my best game for my teammates, myself and everything. I definitely need to be better and that’s what I’m working on this week.”
- CBS showed a pretty head turning graphic on Sunday in what DeForest Buckner means to the Colts defense. Combined with Sunday’s game against the Titans, the Colts are giving up more than a yard and a half per play, and more than 2 yards per carry when Buckner isn’t on the field. In the 179 snaps Buckner has missed this season, the Colts have not recorded a single turnover (they have 16 forced turnovers in the 487 plays he’s been on the field). That’s one way to have your All-Pro candidacy bolstered.
- For a second straight week, Rodrigo Blankenship leads all AFC kickers in fan Pro Bowl voting. It’s a virtual Pro Bowl event this year with players being selected from a third fan vote, a third player vote and a third coach vote. Fan votes will be finalized on December 17th. Players and coaches will vote on December 18th.
- The Colts will practice one final time on Friday afternoon. Following a Saturday morning walk-through, they’ll head to Houston for Sunday’s kickoff at 1:00 PM.
Thursday Injury Report
-DNP: OT-Anthony Castonzo (knee), OT-Chaz Green (back), LB-Bobby Okereke (ankle), P-Rigoberto Sanchez (illness), S-Khari Willis (back, quad), TE-Jack Doyle (rest)
Bowen Analysis: Okereke was doing some side-to-side work off to the side with a member of the athletic training staff. Thursday was a second straight missed practice for Willis. Two straight missed days for Castonzo and Green.
-Limited: DE-Denico Autry (illness), DE-Kemoko Turay (ankle), QB-Philip Rivers (toe)
Bowen Analysis: Autry was limited in his first practice in two weeks. Turay played just 4 snaps on Sunday against the Titans.
-Full: C-Ryan Kelly (knee), RB-Jordan Wilkins (ribs), CB-Isaiah Rodgers (knee), TE-Trey Burton (rest), DE-Justin Houston (rest), WR-Zach Pascal (knee)
Bowen Analysis: Continued good news for Kelly and Rodgers returning to action this week.