Colts Lose Specialist for Season, Await Update on New Kwity Paye Injury

Kwity Paye

Getty Indianapolis Colts defensive end Kwity Paye went down with an injury at practice on August 24.

There was a lot of anticipation about how the final week of training camp would go for the Indianapolis Colts. But instead of the last few position battles remaining on the roster, injuries have been the highlight of the week.

First, the Colts lost punter Rigoberto Sanchez to injury at the end of practice on August 23. Then, defensive end Kwity Paye suffered a knee injury on August 24.

Multiple sources reported the day after Sanchez’s injury that he will miss the entire season because of a torn Achilles tendon.

NFL staff writer Zak Keefer of The Athletic reported the Colts are more optimistic about Paye’s prognosis, but the team is still waiting for an update.

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Sanchez Out, Colts Sign New Punter

The 27-year-old punter suffered his injury while running sprints after practice according to Colts beat writer Nate Atkins of The Indianapolis Star. Indianapolis hasn’t officially announced the punter has been placed on injured reserve, but it’s only a matter of time until that happens.

Without Sanchez, someone other than him will be the primary punter for the Colts for the first time since 2016. Sanchez took over for the retired Pat McAfee in 2017 and has missed just two games during his career. The only other player to record a punt for the Colts over the last five years was Ryan Allen, who posted 6 punts in two games during the 2020 season.

In his first five NFL seasons, Sanchez averaged 45.1 yards per punt. He recorded a career-long 79-yard punt last year.

Sanchez has also served as the team’s kickoff specialist. In five seasons, he has averaged a touchback on 60.0% of his kickoffs.

To replace Sanchez, the Colts worked out several punters on August 23. NFL reporter Mike Garafolo of NFL Network reported that the Colts signed recently released Buffalo Bills punter Matt Haack.

Haack has been in the league the same number of years as Sanchez and is about the same age. Haack has averaged 44.4 yards per punt in his career. Last year, he posted 42.9 yards per punt, which was a career low.

He has some kickoff experience but not a lot. He only kicked off once for the Bills last season.

Optimism Surrounding Paye’s Injury

Losing a specialist is tough, but it’s probably not as bad as a defensive starter falling with an injury. That happened for the Colts, though, the next day.

Paye left practice with a knee injury on August 24. As Keefer reported, he managed to walk off the field, and the Colts are optimistic it’s nothing serious. But Paye will still undergo an MRI.

Losing Paye would be a major blow to the Indianapolis defense. Yannick Ngakoue and DeForest Buckner are expected to lead the team in sacks, but there’s been a lot of chatter this summer that Paye is due for a breakout season.

In fact, one NFL executive told heavy senior NFL reporter Matt Lombardo that with Paye’s high motor, “there’s no reason he can’t reach the high teens in sacks,” if he plays the full season.

As a rookie last season, Paye registered 4.0 sacks, 10 quarterback hits and 32 combined tackles, including 3 tackles for loss. The Colts drafted him in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft.

Indianapolis would lose an important piece to its pass rush without Paye for a big portion of the season.

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