Rodrigo Blankenship

Colts Activate WR T.Y. Hilton, Place K Rodrigo Blankenship On IR

T.Y. Hilton is set to make his 2021 debut tomorrow against the Texans. The veteran wideout has officially been activated from injured reserve, reports Aaron Wilson (via Twitter). The team also placed kicker Rodrigo Blankenship on IR and promoted kicker Michael Badgley and safety Jordan Lucas from the practice squad.

The Colts placed Hilton on IR before Week 1, and he underwent surgery after suffering a neck injury in practice. The 31-year-old returned to practice earlier this week, an indication that he was close to returning to the field. The veteran hasn’t had a 1,000-yard season since 2018, but he’ll still provide Carson Wentz with a reliable target. Hilton finished the 2020 campaign with 56 receptions for 762 yards and five touchdowns in 15 games.

Blankenship’s hip pain played a major factor in the Colts blowing a 19-point lead Monday night, as the second-year kicker missed an extra point and two field goals in an Indianapolis overtime loss. Ultimately, that injury will land Blankenship on IR, and the team will turn to their recent practice squad acquisition. Badgley is best known for his three-year Chargers stint, as the Money Badger kicked in 34 games for the Bolts from 2018-20. He made 94% of his field goal attempts as a rookie but connected on less than 73% of his tries in 16 games last season. The Titans cut Badgley after he missed a field goal and an extra point in Week 1.

Lucas joined the Colts practice squad in late September. The defensive back opted out of the 2020 campaign, but he previously appeared in 30 games for the Chiefs between the 2018 and 2019 seasons.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Colts Working Out 4 Kickers

Rodrigo Blankenship‘s hip injury played a role in the Colts’ collapse Monday night, and the team is looking into temporary replacements. Michael Badgley and Brett Maher are working out for the Colts on Wednesday, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

Indianapolis might not stop with just these two for workouts, Rapoport notes, with Blankenship in jeopardy of missing time. But for now, these are the free agents the Colts have identified as their top fill-in options. Blankenship, who arrived in Indy as a UDFA last year, has not missed a game yet as a pro.

The Colts are expanding this workout, with Tom Pelissero of NFL.com adding that Aldrick Rosas and Riley Patterson are also part of the audition (Twitter link). The Saints released Rosas earlier this month, while Patterson — a four-year kicker at Memphis — is a rookie UDFA who has yet to make his NFL debut.

The team gave Badgley a physical, according to the Indianapolis Star’s Joel Erickson (on Twitter), potentially a sign he won the competition. But no signing has as of yet taken place.

Badgley, 26, kicked in one game for the Titans this season but could not hold the job. Tennessee cut him after he missed a field goal and an extra point in a Week 1 loss to Arizona. While Badgley is best known for his three-year run as the Chargers’ kicker, he entered the NFL in 2018 as a Colts UDFA. The Colts waived Badgley after his rookie training camp, with Adam Vinatieri still going strong at that point.

Maher, 31, has not kicked in a regular-season game since the Cowboys cut him late in the 2019 season. The former CFL specialist has, however, caught on with several teams in the many months since. Maher has made stops with the Jets, Washington, Texans, Cardinals and Saints but did not make his way onto any of the teams’ regular-season rosters. Maher, whom New Orleans released with an injury settlement in August, has made three 60-plus-yard field goals during his short NFL career (29 games from 2018-19).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Colts Cut Eddy Pineiro

The Colts have cut kicker Eddy Pineiro (Twitter link via Adam Schefter of ESPN.com). That leaves Rodrigo Blankenship as Indy’s top leg moving forward and puts a decent kicker on the waiver wire just before the start of the season. 

Pineiro was perfect throughout the preseason but the Colts have decided to go in another direction. Pineiro joined the Colts back in May and seemed to have a real chance of unseating Blankenship. The UDFA out of Georgia was shaky throughout 2020, going just 1-of-3 from 50+ yards. Blankenship was supposed to be an accuracy kicker, but he also had a few critical misses from close range. To his credit, he did go 43 of 45 on extra point tries.

Pineiro appeared in all 16 of the Bears’ 2019 games, going 23-of-28 on field goals (82.1%) and 27-of-29 XPs. He’s perhaps best known for the trade that sent him from the Raiders to the Bears, furnishing Las Vegas with an extra seventh-round draft choice.

The rest of the league will have 24 hours to claim Pineiro. If he goes unclaimed, he’ll be free to sign with any club.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Colts Sign UDFA K Rodrigo Blankenship

It looks like the Colts will hold a kicking competition. With second-year kicker Chase McLaughlin already signed, the Colts made one of college football’s best kickers part of their UDFA class.

Indianapolis will give Georgia kicker Rodrigo Blankenship a $20K bonus to sign, Joel Erickson of the Indianapolis Star tweets. Last season, Blankenship won the Lou Groza award, which is given annually to Division I-FBS’ best kicker.

The first-team All-American kicked for the Bulldogs for four straight seasons. In 2019, he hit 27 of 33 field goals. His 82.5% make rate over four years ranks as the best in Georgia history. Although college football has yet to move extra points back, Blankenship went 200-for-200 on PATs in college. He also recorded 65 touchbacks on 85 career kickoffs.

The Colts enjoyed kicker stability for most of this century, transitioning from Mike Vanderjagt to Adam Vinatieri in 2006 and seeing the latter become the NFL’s all-time leading scorer during his Indianapolis stay. But Vinatieri struggled mightily last season and is unsigned. McLaughlin, a 2019 UDFA, and Blankenship appear set to compete to be the Colts’ post-Vinatieri kicker.