INDIANAPOLIS – We are inching closer and closer to the 2021 NFL football season.
It’s time to pick back up our ‘burning questions’ series on 1075TheFan.com.
Here are our burning questions for the special teams unit heading into the 2021 Training Camp:
1. Who Will Win The Kicking Battle?
It’s not as open as last year’s kicking battle, but we still have some competition for placekicker in 2021.
Rodrigo Blankenship had a really solid rookie season with the Colts and that has him as the slight favorite to retain his job.
But Eddy Pinerio was signed for a reason and that’s to try and challenge Hot Rod.
Pinerio has only kicked one season in the NFL, but his numbers weren’t that far off from Blankenship, while noting that he was kicking outdoors far more than Hot Rod was last season.
It’s probably fair to say that Pinerio is going to have to outkick Blankenship by a good amount to become the new kicker
STAT TO NOTE: In scoring 139 points last season, Rodrigo Blankenship set a rookie record for points scored by a Colts player.
2. Is Isaiah Rodgers A Game Breaker At Kick Returner?
It took a month into Isaiah Rodgers’ rookie season before they gave him an opportunity at kick return.
Rodgers wasted little time showcasing that 4.2 40-yard dash speed.
He broke one for a touchdown in his second game returning kicks (against Cleveland) and finished the season with a really nice average in the return game.
Even though the Colts have experimented with Parris Campbell as a return guy in prior years, it would be wise to hand those duties to a guy like Rodgers, who isn’t expected to have a major role defensively.
Guys like Rodgers and Nyheim Hines have injected some life into the return units of the Colts, after years of being very solid in the coverage department.
STAT TO NOTE: In averaging 28.8 yards per kick return, Isaiah Rodgers finished 3rd in the NFL in that category last season.
3. Will The Colts Break A Punt Return?
The Colts enter a season with pretty obvious choices at both return spots.
Nyheim Hines is that guy at punt returner, with his emergence late in 2019 spilling over to last season in which he was a consistent and reliable returner.
Under special teams coordinator Bubba Ventrone, the Colts have been a really solid team in controlling field position.
Hines is a big part of that in the punt return game.
Before Hines secured this job, the Colts tried and tried for a spark on special teams.
It took some time, but Hines is a weapon in this facet of the game and the Colts need to continue to give him chances, no matter his usage offensively.
STAT TO NOTE: Nyheim Hines finished last season ranked 3rd in the NFL with 300 punt return yards.