Colts: Kicker competition already benefitting Rodrigo Blankenship
By Jerry Trotta
The Indianapolis Colts have had a lot going on during training camp. Unfortunately, most of the conversation has centered on injuries to some of their most important players, including Carson Wentz, Quenton Nelson, DeForest Buckner, Ryan Kelly, and Kwity Paye, among others.
We’re still waiting for those players to return, but the Colts finalizing contract extensions for Darius Leonard and Braden Smith, as well as head coach Frank Reich and GM Chris Ballard, have gone a long way towards distracting fans from the laundry list of injuries.
So, yeah, Colts training camp, despite being less than two weeks old, has been busy. So busy, in fact, that folks probably forgot about the current kicking competition.
You’re forgiven if this slipped your mind with everything going on, but you might want to start giving it some attention, because it’s one of camp’s biggest storylines thus far.
Both Rodrigo Blankenship and free agent signing Eddy Pineiro were a perfect 4-for-4 in the joint practices against the Panthers, making them each a perfect 14-for-14 (!) at camp.
The Colts’ kicking competition has brought out the best in Rodrigo Blankenship.
Reich revealed before camp that it’s Blankenship’s job to lose after the impressive rookie season he put together in 2020, and Pineiro’s presence has clearly lit a fire under the 24-year-old.
As a rookie, Blankenship was solid. He drilled 32 of his 37 field goal attempts, good for an 86.5% conversion rate, which ranked eighth among kickers who attempted at least 30 FGs. He was also reliable on extra points, making 43-of-45 (95.5%), which ranked 10th among all kickers.
For as steady as Blankenship was — he accounted for more points than any rookie in Colts franchise history — however, he was far from perfect. Indianapolis clearly didn’t trust the Georgia product from long range, as he attempted just three field goals from 50 yards and beyond.
While that could be attributed to Reich’s aggressive play calling, Blankenship made just one of those kicks and never looked comfortable in those situations.
The young kicker apparently refined his kicking technique and improved his leg strength, and he seems to be reaping the benefits. Let’s hope it continues!
Getting beyond that, however, Blankenship’s 33-yard miss in the Colts’ 27-24 playoff loss to Buffalo brought into question his status as the team’s long-term answer at the position.
Though he nailed a game-winning FG as time expired against the Packers in Week 11, the Buffalo miss had fans wondering if he could be trusted in high-leverage situations.
We still don’t know the answer to that, but Blankenship’s perfect start to camp suggests the decision to sign Pineiro was the best thing that could’ve happened to him.