After an injury-filled second NFL season in 2021, kicker Rodrigo Blankenship is competing for his job with the Indianapolis Colts this offseason.
But Colts head coach Frank Reich made it clear when speaking to the media during the second week of offseason workouts on June 1 that that’s not unusual. He also seemed to implied the kicker job is Blankenship’s to lose.
“Rod [Rodrigo Blankenship] was our kicker last year, so in my mind, it’s Rod’s to … but it’s an open competition. We’re going in like at every position, really,” Reich said. “There are guys who are on the depth chart – I would say Rod would be on the depth chart as the ‘No. 1 kicker’ right now, but is it a competition? Yes. Is it a competition at every position? Yes.
“We all understand what that means and what it doesn’t mean, but it will be a competition. We certainly respect what Rod has done since he’s been here.”
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Rodrigo Blankship’s Success as Rookie, Injury-Plagued 2021 Season
Arriving in Indianapolis as an undrafted rookie in April 2020, Blankenship made the roster out of training camp. That wasn’t all that different to how he became a star at Georgia. In 2015, he walked on with the Bulldogs and became the program’s starting kicker in 2016.
During his final college season in 2019, Blankenship won the Lou Groza award, which is awarded to the most outstanding place-kicker in college football.
As a rookie with the Colts, Blankenship made 86.5% of his field-goal attempts, which ranked him 15th in the NFL during 2020. From inside 40 yards, he went 22 for 23. Blankenship also made 43 of 45 extra-point tries.
But in his second season, Blankenship suffered a hip injury that kept him from kicking for the Colts after Week 5. In five games, he made 11 of 14 field-goal attempts and 7 out of 8 extra points.
Blankenship has been pretty reliable from short distances when healthy during his career, but he doesn’t have the strongest leg. From beyond 39 yards, he has made 15 of 21 field goals, including just 1 out of 4 attempts from 50-plus yards away.
Competition for Rodrigo Blankenship
Blankenship’s replacement last year, Michael Badgley, remains on the Colts roster and will compete for the kicker role this summer.
Badgley has made 80.5% of his field-goal tries since entering the NFL in 2018. He was 18 for 21 (81.8%) in 12 games with the Colts last year.
Indianapolis also signed kicker Jake Verity to a reserve/futures contract this offseason. Verity spent last season working with five-time All-Pro Justin Tucker while a member of the Baltimore Ravens practice squad. Verity arrived in Baltimore as an undrafted free agent last April.
In five college seasons at East Carolina, Verity made 75.5% of his field goals and 97.7% of his extra points. He appeared to be improving, as he connected on 86% (43 out of 50) of his field-goal attempts in 2018 and 2019. But then in 2020, Verity made just 14 of 21 (66.7%) of his field goals.
There’s also usually a lot of kicker transactions during the NFL preseason, and as Reich has noted in the past, he and general manager Chris Ballard are always looking at outside options to improve the roster.
But as of early June, Blankenship is the favorite to be Indianapolis’ kicker again this season.