Thursday, October 6, 2022

Pat McAfee teases Colts comeback after punter injury: ‘I’m in one of the best shapes I’ve been in’

The Colts lost sixth-year punter Rigoberto Sanchez to a torn Achilles on Tuesday, just weeks before the start of the 2022 season. They’ve since added veteran Matt Haack, last with the Bills, as a potential replacement. But another bigger name could also be on their radar. Pat McAfee, a two-time Pro Bowler who spent eight years as the team’s punter, hinted this week on “The Pat McAfee Show” that he’s considering a comeback, and that Indianapolis might have mutual interest.

McAfee was at Colts training camp for media purposes before Sanchez’s injury, he explained Tuesday, but also practiced punting the ball on his own just “to see if I could still do this if I had to.” After dozens of reps, he said, Colts staffers from different departments — trainers, equipment managers, public-relations staff — affirmed that he “still had it.”

“I think the universe shows you things,” McAfee continued. “Like when I retired (after 2016), I thought there was a lot of things that were just stacking up … like (telling me) it is time. … The Colts are not the first team to reach out to me whenever a kicker or punter injury takes place. But it was hard not to be like, ‘Why did the universe have me punt 32 f—ing balls last week and see if I could still have it?’ It’s in there. My rights are still with the Indianapolis Colts. It’s in town. We’ve got 18 days until kickoff.”

Players have encouraged the idea, too, with defensive lineman DeForest Buckner recruiting McAfee via Twitter this week: “I know you still got some juice in that leg,” he wrote. “Last dance?”

As for whether McAfee will actually follow through with a comeback, the 35-year-old former punter didn’t guarantee it. Although he claimed he’s “probably in one of the best shapes I’ve been in,” he said he’s unsure if his body, specifically his surgically repaired knee, could withstand another NFL season. He also joked that he might not pass a drug test if it were required.

A seventh-round draft pick of the Colts in 2009, McAfee spent his entire eight-year career in Indianapolis, missing just a single game during that span and earning All-Pro honors in 2014. He led the league in average yards per punt (49.3) during his final season.

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