Colts: Latest roster move means Rodrigo Blankenship won kicking job
By Mike Luciano
The Indianapolis Colts have been conducting a quarterback competition between Jacob Eason and Sam Ehlinger, but that isn’t the only head-to-head battle that was going down in Indianapolis. Both Rodrigo Blankenship and Eddy Pineiro were fighting to become the Colts’ kicker.
Pineiro made 82% of his kicks with the Chicago Bears during the 2019 season, but he missed all of 2020 with an injury. Did he have enough thunder is leg to compete with the likes of Blankenship, who was coming off a largely impressive rookie season?
It appears as if we have our answer. Blankenship won the kicking competition on Tuesday, as the Colts announced that Pineiro was going to be placed on waivers. Considering how tough life can be for kickers in this league, the fact that the Colts believed Blankenship was a cut above Pineiro should be a solid vote of confidence in him.
Blankenship had some big misses last year, as every kicker invariably does, but he looks like one of the more promising young specialists in the game today, and the Colts should be pleased with his perfect performance so far in practice and preseason action.
Rodrigo Blankenship will kick for the Colts in 2021.
Blankenship made his name as Georgia’s kicker for several years, as his bespectacled gaze and skinny frame drilled game-winners in key situations with regularity.
An undrafted free agent who signed with Indianapolis to replace the legendary Adam Vinatieri, he had a ton on his plate when he came into the NFL. Luckily, the colorful Blankenship looked lethal as a rookie and played with a chip on his shoulder.
Blankenship made 32 of his 37 field goals and 43 of his 45 extra points last year. In Week 11 against the Packers, Blankenship nailed a game-winning field goal in overtime and earned himself AFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors. He was 10-14 on kicks beyond 40 yards last season.
Blankenship was likely competing with Pineiro due to some concerns about his leg strength, as he made just one field goal beyond 50 yards last year and missed two others. With this decision, however, Frank Reich and special teams coordinator Bubba Ventrone appear to value accuracy over raw power.
Pineiro will likely not be out of work long because his strong preseason and success in Chicago mean that NFL teams will be on the phone with him and his agent the second one of their kickers misses a clutch attempt — that’s just how it goes. For Blankenship, this competition is a sign that they trust him to come through in the clutch once again come 2021.