Rodrigo Blankenship Will Be The Colts Kicker For The Next Decade.
Going into Colts 2021 training camp, Rodrigo Blankenship was not promised the starting kicking role for the regular season. On May 13th Rodrigo found out that he was gaining a new teammate and it was one that may come gunning for his roster spot.
Colts are signing free agent kicker Eddy Pineiro to a one-year deal, per his agent @DrewJRosenhaus.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 13, 2021
As all position battles in the NFL are normally pretty healthy. This is one that all Colts fans figured that Rodrigo had the edge from the start. That was not “exactly” the case. Rodrigo was still being “tested”.
Pinero’s and Blankenship’s most recent active season stats:
First of all, you notice Pinero’s stats are from the 2019 season and not from the 2020 season. That is because to start the 2020 season Pinero was dealing with a groin injury that had him sitting on the Chicago Bears injured reserve. The Bears decided to sign kicker Cairo Santos for insurance with the plan on Pinero returning after week 3. The Bears were happy with the job that Santos was doing and decided to ride him out. The Bears never activated Pinero. Pinero became an unrestricted free agent after the season was over knowing that he would likely have a chance at earning a kicking job somewhere else in 2021.
You also see the obvious, that Pinero’s stats aren’t as good as Blankenship’s. That solely has to do with the kicking environment. Kicking in the windy city compared to kicking in a nice enclosed stadium all season long would have an impact on anyone’s success.
So after analyzing some stats, this battle was really either of theirs to ride into the sunset with. We sure can say they kept it interesting with both kickers finishing training camp without missing one single kick. That is when you started to see Blankenship take the edge in the competition.
The slightest flaw that we saw was Eddy Pinero kick a ball out of bounds on a kickoff versus the Vikings last Saturday night. As we know it to not be the determining factor, Pinero was still waived at the next cutting period.
We have waived K Eddy Pineiro.
— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) August 24, 2021
What I take from this is Rodrigo Blankenship was tested and passed with flying colors.
Don’t forget that this is not the only kicking battle Rodrigo has won in his career. Rodrigo won a kicking battle against Chase Mclaughlin to make the team in 2020. Mclaughlin was filling the placekicking role for the Colts when Adam Vinatieri was hurt (struggling) in 2019.
Rodrigo ended up being a great addition to the Colts culture after they signed him as an undrafted free agent.
He gave the kicking team the extra spunk/spark it was needing ever since Pat McAfee left the building.
What has HotRod brought to the table? A cool nickname and specs that we all respect!
Rodrigo winning this battle doesn’t only show that he is just better than Pinero. It also means that Hot Rod put in the off-season work. One of the biggest reasons Blankenship was being challenged was that his kicks from over 40+ yards in 2020 were not too impressive. But, when you see him on the practice field now and you look up and see him nail a 70 yarder for fun… all you can do is smile.
Kickers average career length in the NFL is 4.87 years. Rodrigo is already going on year two in one of the safest positions in the sport in this day and age and he is thriving. Also, Don’t forget he is only 24 years old. As long as Rodrigo goes out there and does his job and gets better every single day the man has to stick around in Indianapolis. We have seen it happen before.
Rodrigo is following in some impressive footsteps:
Mike Vanderjact: 1998-2005
- Extra points made 344/346
- 99.4% (ALL of his extra points were from the shorter distance. the NFL pushed the extra point from the 2 yard line to the 15 yard line back in 2016)
- Field Goals Made: 336/394
- Career Field Goal Percentage: 85.3%
Adam Vinatieri: 2005 – 2019
- Extra points made 507/524
- 96.8% (majority of his extra points were from the shorter distance before the NFL pushed it back from the 2 yard line to the 15 yard line in 2016)
- Field Goals Made: 217/248
- Career Field Goal Percentage: 87.5%
And I stand by my take: We will be rooting this man on for many years to come!
Enjoy these highlights from Rodrigo with the Colts in 2020. We hope this gets you excited to watch those game-winning field goals once the season begin!
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