In a move that seemed to take most by surprise, the Indianapolis Colts decided to waive former Georiga football kicker Rodrigo Blankenship after missing a field goal in the tie against the Houston Texans.
Blankenship also sent two kick off’s out of bounds in what was a rough game for the ex-Georgia football favorite.
The news of the Colts waiving Blankenship will have sunk hearts in and around the Georgia football program, given how incredibly popular Hot Rod was during his time in Athens.
However, while this news still stings a bit, wherever Blankenship ends up next, there is the confidence he will succeed.
Former Georgia football kicker Rodrigo Blankenship will rise through the ashes and prove the haters wrong.
Legendary status is the correct term for Blankenship during his time at Georgia. In his last game at Sanford Stadium against Texas A&M, Blankenship became the leading points scorer of all time for the Bulldogs with 440 points, which is second all-time in SEC history. Amongst the many other records and awards that Blankenship collected, and there were many, he lays claim to never having missed an extra point kick during his college career.
And if you are intrigued by how many non-missed kicks that are, the answer is 200. Blankenship ended his Georgia career with a field goal-kicking percentage of 83%.
He left Athens, having been one of the best to wear Red and Black.
The hard work pays off for Rodrigo Blankenship
The first time I met Blankenship was in 2019 when I interviewed him for a UK website. What struck me then was his dedication to his game to get those stats that made him a Georgia and SEC legend. While studying for his master’s degree, he would kick for two hours every day prior to getting into a full team practice.
It was clear from our discussion that there were just not enough hours in the day for Hot Rod! Regardless he continued to hone and perfect his skills to the point that he could pursue his dream of playing in the NFL.
While Blankenship would not be drafted, he was picked up quickly by the Indianapolis Colts as an undrafted free agent after the 2020 draft. Indianapolis instantly seemed like a good fit for Blankenship, given the Colts play home games in a dome. In Blankenship’s first year with the Colts, he kicked 139 points, with a field goal completion percentage of 87% and an extra point conversion percentage of 96%.
His second season in Indy was blighted by a hip injury that saw Blankenship placed on the injury reserve list. Over the course of his two and a bit seasons with the Colts, Blankenship has a field goal completion percentage of 84% and extra point completion of 94%.
The decision to waive Hot Rod was bemusing. Reports from Indianapolis beat writers suggest that the Indianapolis front office was not convinced with their kicker last season. Although, given his injury, it seems an odd stance to take given his impressive debut season in Indianapolis.
Someone needs to secure Rodrigo Blankenship as soon as possible.
Without trying to compare Blankenship’s career with an NFL legend such as Adam Vinatieri, the Indianapolis and New England legend had a field goal completion percentage of 84%. Mason Crosby of Green Bay has a completion percentage of 81%, which is the same as the Cowboys kicker, Greg Zuerlein.
These numbers mean that Blankenship’s performance in the NFL is consistent with some of the best kickers in the league. Maybe the Colts had a view on his injury last year, but the Colts reported him active, and there seems no suggestion to the contrary surrounding his ability to kick effectively.
Some have pointed to the two kick off’s out of bounds against the Texans. But again, this seems unusual in that it suggests the kicker has been told to direct to a certain part of the field by his coaching staff. It is not necessarily an off-direction kick, but a bad one.
Even the way the Colts have addressed the absence of a kicker has been bizarre. Indianapolis has grabbed a few kickers off of waivers and placed them onto its practice squad, telling them to fight it out for a starting place.
This decision seems incredibly reckless if the franchise had doubts over their kicker last season. However, we all know that the Colts do not have an outstanding record of personnel management. Just ask Andrew Luck.
Regardless, it is evident that Blankenship is better out of this situation in Indianapolis. With a proven record in college and the NFL, a fantastic work ethic, and a clear desire to win, an NFL franchise is about to pick up a great kicker in waivers.
Let’s be clear — this situation the Colts are doing with the young kicker will seemingly pay a heavy price for essentially one bad game.
However, we know that Blankenship’s football career is not over by any means. Something tells me this decision will come back to haunt the Colts, but that won’t be Blankenship’s driver to succeed. His hard work and desire to perfect his craft will be enough to make him a long-standing feature in the league.