INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts have lost one of their most important players to a season-ending Achilles injury.
During Wednesday’s practice, second-year safety Julian Blackmon tore his Achilles, which will end his 2021 season.
That injury is a brutal one for Blackmon, and the Colts.
In Blackmon, the Colts have a player this staff gushes over. They love his versatility, professionalism and the steadiness he’s brought to the free safety spot. Blackmon is a playmaker at a position that doesn’t always see that.
Since making his NFL debut in Week Two of the 2020 season (after recovering from a torn ACL in less than 10 months), Blackmon has been a mainstay for the Colts, showing playmaking that isn’t always a given from a player in that FS role. Put simply, Blackmon is a playmaker at a position that doesn’t always see that.
Blackmon has made plays at every level of the defense, offering a sound and consistent safety alongside Khari Willis.
As a rookie last season, Blackmon finished the season playing the second most defensive snaps of any Colts defender.
In 2021, the 376 snaps played by Blackmon are the second most defensively (Bobby Okereke has played 381).
What do the Colts think of Blackmon?
Think back to this off-season comment from Chris Ballard:
“I think Blackmon is special,” the GM said.
“He’s got All-Pro talent. We are expecting him to take another step.”
Like the Ravens have already felt, the Colts will have to turn to some depth to replace one of their more important players. And they have to do it at a position where depth was always a concern.
Options behind Blackmon aren’t obvious.
Fellow safeties George Odum (3 career starts) and Andrew Sendejo (77 career starts) are on the 53-man roster.
On Wednesday, prior to Blackmon’s injury, the Colts signed veteran S-Josh Jones, who actually started 13 games for the Jacksonville last season and is a 2017 second-round pick. Jones was cut by the Jaguars, and their new coaching staff, following the end to the 2021 preseason.
If those are hoping for the Colts to find a Mike Adams or Mike Mitchell-type free agent signing, some options on the open market include Kenny Vaccaro, Tre Boston and Karl Joseph. Both Vaccaro and Boston have visited with the team in past years.
No matter how the Colts best decide to replace Blackmon, they are losing a player that helps this coaching staff sleep better at night.
“I remember with Julian last year, he had the knee issue and he was going through all of that and also we put him in drills and I’m standing there next to (safeties coach) Alan Williams and we have him side by side with the corners and we’re doing the break drills, the movement drills that DBs do, and we were looking at each other like ‘Oh my gosh, this guy is as good as a corner. He’s moving as quick and as fast as a corner,’” Matt Eberflus recalled this offseason.
“We knew right then he had that special quickness because you could see that on tape he had the ball skills and he was a ballhawk type of guy. So, he proved that. We just noticed his quickness right away.”
Now, that presence as the final line of defense, with the ability to move around and make plays in other spots, will no longer be a part of the Colts defense in 2021.