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Indianapolis Colts release punter Jeff Locke

Jeff Locke

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The Indianapolis Colts have released punter Jeff Locke in the team’s first significant move as NFL roster cuts draw closer.

The team signed the veteran punter in the offseason to replace Pat McAfee, who announced his retirement in February. Locke signed with the team in March and was one of general manager Chris Ballard’s offseason free agent investments. He lost his preseason competition with undrafted rookie Rigoberto Sanchez, who won the starting job after a solid preseason.

Locke signed a two-year, $3.45 million free-agent contract in March that included $1.25 million in guarantees following a four-year career with the Minnesota Vikings.

In three preseason games, Sanchez outperformed Locke.

Sanchez averaged 47.2 yards on 10 punts with a net of 41.3 and three punts downed inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. Locke averaged 43.5 yards on 11 punts with a 44.0 net and three attempts downed inside the 20.

On kickoffs, Locke routinely delivered the football to the end zone while Sanchez’s attempts usually were shorter.

Rosters across the league must be trimmed from 90 to 53 by Saturday.

The Colts close the preseason Thursday night against the Cincinnati Bengals at Lucas Oil Stadium. The game airs on FOX59.