INDIANAPOLIS — The NFL season may have just started, but for Rodrigo Blankenship, his time kicking for the Indianapolis Colts has come to an end.
Blankenship was waived by the team on Tuesday, two days after he missed what would have been a game-winning field goal in Houston. Instead, the Colts settled for a 20-20 tie with the Texans after erasing a 17-point deficit to force overtime in the season opener.
Indianapolis appeared poised to escape Houston with a win, driving to the Texans' 19-yard line in overtime, but a sack of quarterback Matt Ryan drove them back five yards before Blankenship shanked a 42-yard field goal try with just under two minutes remaining.
Blankenship made his other two field goal attempts in the game, connecting from 45 and 27 yards, and converted both extra points, but the overtime miscue and two kickoffs that went out of bounds late in regulation led to speculation that his time in Indianapolis was running out.
“I always tell our players and specialists it’s OK — everyone is expected to make a mistake," special teams coordinator Bubba Ventrone said Tuesday before the move was announced. “You’re going to have ups and downs in a game. It’s how fast can you respond and how fast can you self-correct it.”
Blankenship signed with the Colts as an undrafted free agent in 2020 after a standout career at the University of Georgia.
He hurt his hip before last year's game at Baltimore and the ensuing kicking woes that day proved costly in an overtime loss. Blankenship never returned to the field afterward, missing three of 14 field-goal attempts and an extra point in five games before finishing the season on injured reserve.
Michael Badgley had the job for the rest of 2021, going 18 of 21 on field goals and making all 39 extra points. But Indy didn't re-sign him in the offseason and Badgley instead wound up in Jacksonville. He was eventually cut and re-signed to the practice squad.
Blankenship then fended off a training camp challenge from undrafted rookie Jake Verity, who spent most of last season on Baltimore's practice squad.
“To Rod’s credit, as we’ve brought the heat and brought competition, he’s kind of won those battles. That’s to his credit,” coach Frank Reich said Monday before meeting with general manager Chris Ballard. "Chris and I will sit down and have a long discussion about that and see where we’re at.”
In 22 games with Indianapolis, Blankenship made 45-of-54 field goal tries and 52-of-55 extra points.
To fill the kicking vacancy, the Colts signed a pair of kickers to their practice squad on Tuesday. Chase McLaughlin, whom Blankenship beat out for the Colts job in 2020, and Lucas Havrisik signed with the team. They'll compete for the job this week in practice.
McLaughlin has kicked for six teams over the last three seasons, including four games with Indianapolis in 2019. He made 5-of-6 field goals and all 11 extra points he tried for the Colts. He was 15-of-21 on field goals and 36-of-37 on extra points in 16 games for the Cleveland Browns last season, including a career-long 57-yard field goal.
Havrisik is a rookie who kicked for the University of Arizona for five seasons. He made 34-of-53 field goal attempts, with a long of 57 yards. He connected on 73-of-78 extra points in college.
Indianapolis is back on the road Sunday, looking to even their 2022 record against the Jacksonville Jaguars, who eliminated the Colts from playoff contention in last season's finale. The Colts have lost seven straight games in Jacksonville.
(The Associated Press contributed to this story.)