The Indianapolis Colts have a plethora of young talent on their roster courtesy of great drafting by general manager Chris Ballard.
The Colts’ team-building philosophy under Ballard has always been to draft and grow their own. So far, they have been very successful in doing this as players such as Quenton Nelson, Darius Leonard, and Braden Smith were all drafted and by the Colts and are set to be pillars of the organization for years to come.
The Colts have a couple of second-year players that hope to take a big step in proving they can be pillars for the organization as well in Michael Pittman Jr. and Julian Blackmon.
Starting with Pittman, he finished the season strong last year and showed flashes of being a playmaker down the field who can do damage after the catch. Going into Year Two, he feels much more comfortable.
“I’m so much more comfortable going through OTAs and in-person meetings,” Pittman said. “I feel like I’ve been here. I feel like I’ve done this.”
“(When) you’re a rookie and you can’t really say much, you can’t really be like yourself because you’re just trying to be a good rookie and do your part. Now I can be me and have fun.”
The Colts are hoping a more comfortable Pittman leads to a more productive Pittman. He tallied 40 catches for 503 yards and a touchdown his rookie year, but a leg injury early in the season certainly slowed him down. With a full year of health, Pittman embraces the pressure of being a leading receiver.
“Absolutely, yeah I mean that’s pressure that I’ve been looking for,” Pittman said when asked about being the guy. “I want to be that guy so I will accept that pressure and try to play to the highest of my ability.”
Pittman has high expectations for himself this year, and the Colts are hoping he can build on his strong finish to 2020 and turn into a WR1 talent.
Unlike Pittman, Blackmon started the year very fast after entering the starting lineup in Week Two. He showed fantastic playmaking ability in the secondary and a nose for the ball. However, his play began to trail off towards the end of the year and the young safety wants to make sure that doesn’t happen again.
“I think that I just liked the competition level that I played with,” Blackmon said when asked about his rookie season. “I feel like I came out and gave it my all for my teammates. What I didn’t like was the fact that l kind of – my legs were just so heavy at the end of the year. I feel like going through the ACL (injury) and having to rehab and then getting into everything – by November, December I was kind of regressing. This year I’m excited because I got to be able to have spring, got to train in the offseason (and) get my legs right. It’s really going to be a good year.”
Having the extra time to train has been huge for Blackmon. The extra effort on his body will bode well for him, especially with an added 17th game.
But like Pittman, Blackmon comes into his second year much more relaxed and amped to get the year started. When asked what it was like to be back, there was an eager tone in his voice.
“It’s been so fun. I think for us, these are the times where we really want to get into conditioning shape, football shape. You can go and train, but football is different and we all know that so this is where – these first weeks we have to really focus on working as hard as we can running to the football (and in) everything we do so that we can bring that to the regular season (and) make plays.”
Pittman and Blackmon are two players the Colts are very high on and expect to make a big jump this season. If their expectations are correct, we could be looking at two more pillars of the Colts franchise for years to come.
Have thoughts on Michael Pittman and Julian Blackmon ahead of their second years in Indianapolis? Drop a line in the comments section below letting us know how you feel!
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