INDIANAPOLIS – For the second time in three years, it’s looking like Julian Blackmon will defy the odds in recovering from a major injury.
To many, what Blackmon is doing coming off a torn Achilles is a surprise.
Just look at the work Blackmon did during the team’s minicamp two weeks ago.
Not only was Blackmon taking part in the activities, but he was participating full speed in the 7-on-7 sessions, less than 8 months removed from tearing his Achilles.
Frankly, it was pretty remarkable to see Blackmon medically cleared and confident in moving around at there, just like any other healthy player.
It was reminiscent of Blackmon coming back from a December 2019 torn ACL (in the Pac-12 Championship game). By that following September, Blackmon was making his NFL starting debut, just 9 months after tearing his left ACL.
Blackmon’s torn Achilles in an October practice last year occurred on the same leg as the ACL.
And here he is looking like a guy that will be ready to go when the season gets underway in September, which has taken on even more of an onus with the Khari Willis retirement last week.
“I think I proved that coming in as a rookie in terms of being really good at rehabbing, making sure that I’m listening to the trainers, the coaches, staying mentally in it,” Blackmon says as heads into his third NFL season.
“I think that was the biggest thing for me. That’s catapulted me in a way to rehab properly and effectively.”
Frank Reich has been struck by the presence of Blackmon in dealing with another significant injury.
While such a setback can send a player down a path difficult to get back from, Blackmon calls it a ‘fun journey.’
“When I see Julian, and I said this to him (in June), I just feel like his mindset and even his body is physically at another level than it was when he got here.” Reich says. “Super excited for him to get fully healthy and become the impact player that we really believe he’ll be.”
Blackmon’s torn Achilles last fall came on the final play of the last period of practice.
As he went up to try and intercept a pass, his left Achilles gave out.
Instead of falling to the turf and immediately thinking about the potentially career-altering injury, Blackmon first thought about the need to attack this upcoming rehab.
That makeup is part of why Blackmon has had early NFL success and proven to be an important building piece moving forward.
Gus Bradley’s arrival has only stressed the need for safeties like Blackmon.
“You look at the defense that we run, the teams that have run it, they’ve had safeties who are playmakers on both the guy playing center field and the guy down in the box and vice versa,” Reich says. “We want our guys to be able to do both, usually you favor one or the other but I do think Julian is one of those guys that can play both positions. Probably ultimately better suited for the free (safety) but really, I wouldn’t limit him to that. They’re big-time playmakers in this defense.
“So, looking forward to him getting back.”
And with how Blackmon looked in the spring, the Colts should have their young safety in the lineup come Week 1, with his presence meaning even more than it did at the end of minicamp.