The Indianapolis Colts announced that starting free safety Julian Blackmon will miss the team's Week 4 matchup with the Tennessee Titans due to an ankle injury. Blackmon left in the second quarter of the Colts' 20-17 win over the Kansas City Chiefs and, as a result, he failed to see the practice field this week.
The likely replacement for Blackmon appears to be rookie seventh-round pick Rodney Thomas II. Thomas II filled in at free safety against the Chiefs when Blackmon left, and he finished the day with two tackles and a pass breakup in 51 defensive snaps.
Thomas II was a college standout at Yale University, where he saw time at multiple positions in their versatile front. Horseshoe Huddle's Andrew Moore had this to say about the young safety in his Rookie Files series this past Summer:
Thomas comes to the Colts with plenty of experience all over the field. He started 19-of-33 games in his college career, including every game for the Bulldogs in his final two seasons. Playing linebacker and defensive back, Thomas racked up 134 tackles, eight tackles for loss, one sack, 21 passes defended, and six interceptions. His play led him to be a two-time All-Ivy League selection, making First-Team in 2021.
Thomas II is a phenomenal athlete, standing tall at 6'2" and 196 pounds and logging an outstanding 41-inch vertical jump at his Pro Day. His athletic traits were on full display a week ago, where he made this phenomenal pass breakup in the closing moments of the first half against the Chiefs:
What is especially great about this play is Thomas II's reaction after getting the pass breakup. The Colts' are in quarters coverage on the play and Thomas II clearly expected more help to the middle of the field from either safety Rodney McLeod or linebacker Zaire Franklin. While Thomas II's range allowed him to break this pass up, he immediately jumped up after the play and looked for an explanation from his teammates for why the miscommunication happened.
In essence, this play is the perfect summation of what we can expect from Thomas II in his first career start this Sunday. There will be some miscommunications and a bit of a learning curve, but the young Yale product will still be able to make plays with his absurd range and athleticism.
Personally, I'm very excited to see Rodney Thomas II get some serious playing time against a team like the Tennessee Titans.
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