Already facing injury issues on offense, the Colts will be shorthanded on the other side of the ball during their late-season playoff push. The team announced on Tuesday that safety Julian Blackmon has been placed on injured reserve.
As a result of the move, Blackmon will be shut down for at least four weeks, leaving him out of the lineup for Indianapolis’ two remaining regular season contests. James Boyd of The Athletic reports, though, that he could return to the lineup if the Colts manage to make a deep postseason run. The former third-rounder has remained a full-time starter in his fourth season, making his absence a notable one.
Blackmon entered the season as a pending free agent, and he has upped his value on a new Colts deal or the open market with his level of play in 2023. The 25-year-old has enjoyed a career year with 88 tackles, four interceptions, eight pass deflections and a pair of fumble recoveries. He has been a key contributor for an Indianapolis defense which has struggled in a number of categories but ranks in the top half of the league against the pass.
As part of the team’s young array of contributors on the backend, the Colts were already using 2022 seventh-rounder Rodney Thomas as a starter. The 25-year-old has amassed six interceptions in his young career, and he will be counted on to remain productive with Blackmon out of the fold. The latter’s starting spot will likely be given to Nick Cross, who has largely played on special teams to date in the NFL.
To fill Blackmon’s roster spot, the Colts brought back fellow safety Henry Black. The former UDFA signed a futures deal with Indianapolis this winter before spending time (as he did in 2022) on the team’s practice squad. He was most recently with Pittsburgh’s taxi squad, but this Colts reunion will allow him to remain on an active roster for the time being.
One of three teams still in contention to win the AFC South, the Colts have games against the Raiders and Texans remaining on their schedule. Their ability to reach the postseason in any capacity will take a hit without Blackmon available down the stretch.