Colts Cut Fan-Favorite After Week 1 Mishap, Sign 2 Replacements

Frank Reich

Getty Head coach Frank Reich and the Indianapolis Colts have parted ways with a player who was, at one point, very popular.

Rodrigo Blankenship’s tenure as the Indianapolis Colts kicker is done.

NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported on September 13 that the Colts have waived Blankenship.

To replace Blankenship, the Colts have signed two kickers, Chase McLaughlin and Lucas Havrisik, to the practice squad according to Pelissero. The Colts reportedly plan to promote 1 of those 2 kickers to the active for Week 2.

Indianapolis waiving Blankenship comes after the kicker had a rough finish to Week 1 against the Houston Texans on September 11. Blankenship’s last two kickoff attempts landed out of bounds, which allowed the Texans to begin drives at their 40-yard line.

He also missed a 42-yard field goal in overtime, which would have lifted the Colts to a 3-point win. Instead, Indianapolis settled for a 20-20 tie.

Blankenship’s Struggles Date Back to 2020

Cutting Blankenship after one overtime miss might seem sudden for some fans. For others, it’s been a bit of a longtime coming.

Blankenship burst onto the scene in 2020 for a very solid rookie season. He made more than 90% of his field goals (30-for-33) and extra points (41-for-43) in his first 15 games that season. But his decline began during Week 17 of 2020.

Against Jacksonville that week, Blankenship missed 2 out of 4 field-goal attempts. Although that didn’t have an impact in the 28-14 Indianapolis victory, the Colts lost in the AFC Wild Card round by 3, and Blankenship missed a 33-yard field goal in the defeat.

Blankenship has never been the same since then. Including the postseason, he’s made only 16 out of 23 field-goal tries (69.6%) in his last 8 contests.

In the NFL, Blankenship hasn’t featured a strong leg, but even inside of 50 yards, he hasn’t been accurate since the end of 2020. In 4 of his last 8 games, Blankenship has missed a field goal from inside of 50 yards. During that stretch, he also has 1 missed extra point.

Colts Work Out Wright, Lambo But Sign McLaughlin & Havrisik

To replace Blankenship, Indianapolis has elected to have two kickers compete this week in practice for the kicker role in Week 2. The Colts are familiar with each of those two kickers.

McLaughlin spent 4 games in Indianapolis at the end of the 2019 season. With the Colts, he made 5 out of 6 field goals, including a 50-yarder and all 11 of his extra-point tries. But Blankenship beat out McLaughlin for the job during the 2020 preseason.

In just 3 seasons, McLaughlin has appeared in a regular season game for 6 NFL teams. He played 16 games, going 15-for-21 (71.4%) for the Cleveland Browns last season. McLaughlin also made 36 out of 37 extra points in 2021.

Over 31 career games, McLaughlin has made 75.5% of his field-goal attempts.

Havrisik has never appeared in an NFL game. The Colts invited the rookie to camp following the 2022 NFL Draft. Havrisik made honorable mention in the Pac-12 in 2020 and 2021 with the Arizona Wildcats.

Hours prior to signing McLaughlin and Havrisik, Colts insider Joel A. Erickson of The Indianapolis Star reported the Colts worked out two former Jacksonville Jaguars kickers, Josh Lambo and Matthew Wright.

Lambo owns an 87.1% field-goal percentage in his 7-year career, but he’s only appeared in 7 games over the last 2 seasons. Lambo missed all 3 of field-goal tries with the Jaguars last year.

Wright appeared in 3 games for the Pittsburgh Steelers during 2020, making all 4 of his field goals. Last year, he went 21-for-24 in 14 games for the Jaguars.

Colts Feeling the Loss of Rigoberto Sanchez

While Blankenship’s inaccuracy on field goals may have led to his release, The Athletic’s Zak Keefer reported the Colts found his out of bounds kickoffs “were even more” frustrating than the overtime miss.

Punter Rigoberto Sanchez is Indianapolis’ regular kickoff specialist, but he was lost for the entire season because of a torn Achilles on August 24. New Colts punter Matt Haack has replaced Sanchez admirably on punts, but Frank Reich has told the media Haack isn’t an option for kickoffs.

That left Blankenship in the kickoff role for Week 1, and he faltered late in the game. The Colts are counting on whomever they promote from the practice squad to kick field goals in Week 2 to also perform better on kickoffs.

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