Indianapolis Colts safety Julian Blackmon continues to make encouraging progress in his recovery from a season-ending torn Achilles suffered last season—as he’s now participating in on-field defensive backs drills at OTAs:
Julian Blackmon is going through DB drills— Joel A. Erickson (@JoelAErickson) June 1, 2022
Colts Julian Blackmon (32) getting work. Coming back from torn Achilles. pic.twitter.com/Hc2KwpLYxg— Mike Chappell (@mchappell51) June 1, 2022
Colts practice underway. Among the DBs working out here: Safety Julian Blackmon (32), who is coming off a torn Achilles. pic.twitter.com/gVJCvmsNrl— Stephen Holder (@HolderStephen) June 1, 2022
He’s so far looked very smooth and fluid in drills, with the ability to immediately stop-and-go off that surgically repaired Achilles.
It comes just a week after Colts head coach Frank Reich indicated that Blackmon was ‘ahead of schedule’ in his offseason rehabilitation—and it safely appears that Reich wasn’t just using ‘coach speak’ and was telling the truth.
Blackmon is coming off a season that was cut short because of the Achilles, recording 34 tackles (27 solo), 2 tackles for loss, a forced fumble, and a pass defensed during 6 starts in 2021. However, he was in the midst of a breakout campaign of sorts.
Per PFF (subscription), in particular, Blackmon was a force against the run with a +81.1 run defense grade—oftentimes showcasing his elite acceleration downhill to stop the opposing ball carrier in his tracks and deliver big hits.
However, he’s also continued to develop into an exceptional safety in coverage, featuring elite centerfield range and ballhawking skills—as a former converted collegiate cornerback:
Most coverage snaps played since 2020 without allowing a TD among all NFL defenders:— PFF IND Colts (@PFF_Colts) May 26, 2022
Julian Blackmon: 831 pic.twitter.com/PfTXd7xT6X
While the Colts have serious depth this year at the position, with the new offseason additions of veteran Rodney McLeod and rookie 3rd round pick Nick Cross (to go along with incumbent starter Khari Willis), Blackmon figures to immediately assume a starting safety safety job alongside Willis again—once fully healthy and recovered.
In his extended absence, the Colts sorely missed him last season, as he provides dynamic athletic ability in the backend of their secondary with his ability to be a plus defender against both the run and pass—with the ability to make game-changing plays.
It looks like his realistic return to Colts’ game days could be much sooner than anticipated.