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INDIANAPOLIS – Frank Reich says the 2021 kicking competition for the Colts will be open, but he also adds that the returner has the early lead.

That’s a bit of good news for Rodrigo Blankenship, who did have a solid season as an undrafted rookie, replacing the greatest kicker in NFL history.

But bringing in another leg at kicker was always a wise move for the Colts this offseason, and they did that by signing Eddy Pineiro earlier this spring.

Does this mean the Colts will follow a similar kicking competition like they had in 2020 (between Chase McLaughlin and Blankenship)?

“Not quite like last year,” Reich says.

“It’s open competition but Hot Rod, he’s the incumbent. Everything has to be earned. Hot Rod had a good season for us last year, so that’s obviously taken into consideration. He’ll have to earn it again this year, but it is open competition.”

Both Blankenship and Pineiro have been an NFL kicker for one season.

Here are their stats:

Blankenship (2020 Colts): FGs: 32-of-37 (86.5 percent), XPs: 43-of-45 (95.6 percent)

Pineiro (2019 Bears):  FGs: 23-of-28 (82.1 percent), XPs: 27-of-29 (93.1 percent)

It should be noted that Blankenship kicked indoors in 11 of 16 games, whereas Pineiro was inside for just 2 of his 16 games.

Distance wise, Pineiro was 5-of-9 on kicks longer than 40 yards, with Blankenship going 10-of-14 from the same distance.

Pineiro lost his job in Chicago when a groin injury last offseason sidelined him.

Given what these two guys have done in their respective kicking situations, this looks to be a pretty good competition to watch in camp.