INDIANAPOLIS – Um, do the Colts have a kicking competition coming in 2020?
After years of incredible stability at the kicker position, it looks like the Colts will be letting a pair of young kickers battle it out for the job in 2020, with the elephant in the room of Adam Vinatieri still looming.
With Chase McLaughlin, 24, already re-signed for 2020, the Colts signed college football’s top kicker from last year as an undrafted free agent.
The iconic Rodrigo ‘Hot Rod’ Blankenship is 1 of the 10 undrafted free agents of the Colts.
Donning his famous rec specs, Blankenship won the Lou Groza Award in 2019, which is given to the nation’s top kicker.
Blankenship, 23, initially walked-on at Georgia. Following a redshirt campaign, he was a 4-year kicker for the Bulldogs, connecting on 80-of-97 field goals, and a perfect 200-of-200 on extra points.
For his career, Blankenship made 23-of-33 field goals from 40+ yards and 6-of-9 from 50+ yards (long of 55 yards).
With the Colts aggressively pursuing Blankenship as a UDFA, it would appear they are fully preparing to have a two-man kicking competition with Vinatieri’s future in Indy still in doubt.
Vinatieri, 47, has not been on the Colts roster for a month and a half, thus placing him on the open market as a free agent.
After Blankenship reportedly joined the Colts following the draft, Chris Ballard was asked about what that meant for Vinatieri.
“I still have to have talks with Adam,” was Ballard’s response.
December 2019 knee surgery for Vinatieri has led to a lengthy rehab that isn’t expected to be fully complete until the summer.
While it’s hard to see Vinatieri wanting his career to end after an injury-riddled ’19 season, in which his last kick attempt was a blocked field goal returned for a touchdown, the Colts are clearly preparing for life after the Hall of Famer.
McLaughlin was quickly re-signed after the 2019 campaign, following a nice run to end the year.
“I’m happy with Chase,” Ballard said following the end to the 2019 season, in which McLaughlin went 7-of-8 on field goals (missing one from 47 yards out) and a perfect 8-of-8 on extra points. “You come in and you have to follow Adam Vinatieri, you have to have a little something to you. He’s got a very calm demeanor. He’s got a good process that he goes through to kick. We like Chase.”
So, are Blankenship and McLaughlin in a kicking competition this camp/preseason?
Will a rehabbed Vinatieri be back in Indy, or will a 25th NFL season for the legend have to take place elsewhere?