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Potential Replacements for Julian Blackmon

Second-year safety Julian Blackmon tore his achilles in practice on Wednesday. What do the Colts do at safety going forward?

The Indianapolis Colts announced that starting safety Julian Blackmon tore his achilles in practice on Wednesday, which means his promising second-season has come to a devastating end.

For Blackmon, this injury is simply awful for a young player of his caliber. He suffered an ACL injury in college back in 2020, but seemed to bounce back from that major setback well. This will just be another start to a long, tedious recovery for the young player.

For the Colts, this puts the team in a bit of a bind going forward. The team won't be able to replace the production that they had from Blackmon at safety, but do they have any decent options that can keep them afloat?

In today's piece, I'll dive into the limited options the Colts have going forward.

In-House Options

George Odum

While the Colts typically prefer to keep him in a special teams-only type of role, the best player equipped for the starting job (physically that is) is fourth-year safety George Odum. He has shown the ability to play the position in the past, but he just hasn't seen the opportunities in recent seasons.

Odum has seen just 14 defensive snaps on the season and really hasn't had a role on defense since the 2019 campaign. While I do think that this could potentially lead to more snaps going forward, I highly doubt he takes over as the starter with Blackmon out. 

T.J Carrie

Veteran cornerback T.J Carrie is likely the best in-house candidate for the job. He is currently on injured reserve, but it seems very likely that he gets a shot at the job once he returns. He hasn't played safety full time at any point in his NFL career, but the Colts did rotate him back there quite a bit in the offseason.

Andrew Sendejo

The other potential option is 11-year veteran Andrew Sendejo. He is currently dealing with a concussion, but did start in place of Khari Willis back in week four against the Miami Dolphins. I'm not sure if Sendejo is the best fit in the role the Colts need (he is more of a box-safety) but he is an experienced player with good production in his career.

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Free Agents

Bradley McDougald

While free agency simply won't have many decent options at this point in the year, veteran Bradley McDougald could be a potential pickup. He has accumulated 10 interceptions in his career, and had a strong three year stint with the Seattle Seahawks a few years back.

He most recently appeared in a few games with the Tennessee Titans this season before being cut in late September. While he wouldn't be the perfect fix to the situation, he is at least a player that is in football shape and has had some success in the past.

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Kenny Vaccaro

Another veteran safety that the Colts should be familiar with is Kenny Vaccaro. Once a very good young safety for the New Orleans Saints, Vaccaro is on the last legs of a productive NFL career. He most recently played, and started, for the Titans back in 2020.

Vaccaro is another player where the fit may be a bit weird considering that he is more of a box safety rather than a free safety like Blackmon. Regardless, the Colts are desperate and just adding someone with talent and experience could help.

Opposing Practice Squads

Shawn Davis (Green Bay)

The final place to look for the Colts could be on other teams' practice squads. Davis is a player that the Colts just spent a fifth round pick on in the 2021 NFL Draft, so there obviously was some interest there in the past.

It may be a stretch to say the Colts would want Davis back, considering that they waived him prior to final cutdowns and then ultimately released him from the practice squad early in the year. At this point, an athletic player with familiarity with the team couldn't hurt.

Karl Joseph (Pittsburgh)

This one is actually pretty intriguing. Joseph hasn't quite lived up to expectations in the NFL, but he has logged quite a few snaps in the league since 2016. He was a starter in Oakland before playing a role with the Cleveland Browns in 2020.

Joseph is a veteran safety with experience playing deep and around the line of scrimmage. Would he be a great fit with this defense? Probably not, but the Colts simply don't have many better options at the moment.

Jeremy Reaves (Washington)

This is actually my favorite option, although I don't expect the Colts to actually pursue it. Reaves is a young safety that saw some decent playing time for Washington late in the 2020 season. He finished the year with 25 tackles, two pass deflections, and an interception in four games started.

Reaves makes the most sense to me when you consider his age and ability. The best course of action, in my opinion, would be to start players in-house and bring in a guy like Reaves off of Washington's practice squad. Then, when Reaves is ready, give him the starting snaps alongside Willis.

What will the Colts ultimately do, though? I'm not entirely sure. I just know that this is a major loss for this defense going forward.

Follow Zach on Twitter @ZachHicks2.

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