What will the Colts secondary look like without Julian Blackmon?

With the 2020 third-round pick placed on IR earlier this week, it's time to look at how the Indianapolis Colts defense will be affected by Blackmon's absence.
Indianapolis Colts v New England Patriots
Indianapolis Colts v New England Patriots / Alex Grimm/GettyImages

Coming off a disappointing loss against the Atlanta Falcons (7-8), the Indianapolis Colts (8-7) had matters take a turn for the worse after placing starting safety Julian Blackmon on the Injured Reserve list. Blackmon, who is on an expiring contract, has yet to be extended by the Colts for the upcoming years.

The 25-year-old out of Utah set a career-high mark in interceptions, passes defended, tackles, and tackles for loss this season. Blackmon's absence is sure to be felt in the Colts' defense as he led the team in interceptions - something that this Colts team thrives off of. In his place, second-year safety Nick Cross is expected to get the starting reps.

Nick Cross, who just recorded his first career interception two weeks ago against the Pittsburgh Steelers, has yet to start a game for the shoe this season. The former Maryland man did start two games last year in his rookie campaign, but is sure to see more playing time with Blackmon sidelined due to a shoulder injury for the remainder of the year.

The Colts' secondary is running thin

Blackmon's injury only adds to the long list of issues the Colts' secondary has seen all year long. From suspending cornerbacks Isaiah Rodgers and Tony Brown to injuries plaguing Dallis Flowers and JuJu Brents, the Colts can't seem to catch a break.

Last week, cornerback Darrell Baker Jr. was a healthy scratch in a surprising decision made by head coach Shane Steichen. This week, it wouldn't be a surprise to see a return for Baker with so many missing members in the secondary.

Aside from Nick Cross, the Colts will need a boost in production from the remaining starting safety in Rodney Thomas II. The 2022 seventh-round pick has started every single game for Indianapolis in 2023, recording two interceptions so far. Thomas and Cross were apart of the same draft class, and Thomas says he is excited to see more action from Cross this weekend.

This Sunday's matchup against Las Vegas Raiders’ rookie quarterback Aidan O'Connell is an outstanding opportunity for the young safeties to prove their value to a weakened secondary that has seen plenty of struggles. O'Connell is coming off one of the biggest wins of his career against Kansas City and Mahomes, but the rookie completed a shocking zero passes after the first quarter. Indianapolis will look to capitalize against one of the league's more inefficient offenses as they fight for a playoff spot in a contested AFC.