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Indianapolis Colts

Colts 2022 Training Camp Preview: Safeties

The Colts' safety room underwent a significant overhaul this offseason, with the retirement of Khari Willis and the additions of an accomplished veteran (Rodney McLeod) and a talented rookie (Nick Cross). Check out what to watch for from the Colts' safeties ahead of the start of training camp on July 27. 

Who's In

  • Rodney McLeod (signed as free agent)
  • Armani Watts (signed as free agent)
  • Nick Cross (drafted in third round)
  • Trevor Denbow (signed as undrafted free agent)
  • Marcel Dabo (signed as undrafted free agent/International Pathway Program)

McLeod joined the Colts after 10 seasons with the St. Louis Rams (2012-2015) and Philadelphia Eagles (2016-2021), during which he appeared in 139 games (123 starts) with 16 interceptions, 36 pass break-ups, 11 forced fumbles and 15 tackles for a loss.

Watts primarily was a special teams player for the Kansas City Chiefs from 2018-2021, but he does have two career sacks and two career tackles for a loss picked up over 282 snaps on defense.

Cross ran the fastest 40-yard dash of any safety at last year's NFL Combine, and the Colts valued the Maryland product's skillset and upside so much they traded back into the third round to draft him earlier this year.

Denbow played his college ball at SMU and is engaged to his fiancée, Kristian – whose mom, Monica Aldama, is the cheer coach at Navarro College and is one of the main subjects of the Netflix documentary Cheer.

Dabo is with the Colts via the NFL's International Pathway Program and does not count toward the team's 90-man roster, but will have an opportunity to earn his way in the league during training camp. The versatile native of Germany is listed as a defensive back and possesses intriguing athletic upside.

Who's Out

  • Khari Willis (retired)
  • George Odum (signed with San Francisco 49ers)
  • Andrew Sendejo (free agent)

Willis, who started 33 games and had four interceptions in three seasons with the Colts, announced his retirement in June to pursue a faith-based journey as a minister.

Odum signed with the 49ers after four seasons as a core special teamer and reserve safety – he started a career high seven games and notched an interception in 2021.

Sendejo was brought in during the 2021 season and started 10 games at safety.

Who's Back

  • Julian Blackmon (third season)

Blackmon suffered a season-ending Achilles' injury during a practice ahead of the Colts' Week 6 game against the Houston Texans. Prior to his injury, Blackmon was playing well – especially against the run.

What To Watch For

We'll see where he's officially at upon arriving at Grand Park, but there were plenty of reasons for optimism regarding Blackmon's status during the Colts' offseason program. He was able to participate in full-speed seven-on-seven work as the offseason progressed and said during OTAs he was targeting being ready for training camp.

Other than Blackmon – whose energy on and off the field is always fun to see up close – a potential competition between the veteran McLeod and the rookie Cross should be a fascinating follow at Grand Park. Fun fact about both players: They attended the same high school, DeMatha Catholic in Maryland, though they graduated about a decade apart.

Training Camp Information

The Colts will return to Grand Park Sports Complex in Westfield for training camp in 2022. Click here for a full schedule of practices open to fans. Free tickets will be required to attend, which can be obtained here. For more information on Colts 2022 Training Camp Presented By Koorsen Fire & Security, click here.

Statistically Speaking

Lowest passer rating allowed among safeties, 2019-2021 (min. 70 targets)

  1. Rodney McLeod (48.6)
  2. Harrison Smith (54.8)
  3. Devin McCourty (55.5)
  4. Micah Hyde (60.8)
  5. Jordan Poyer (64.5)

They Said It

"I don't know if it was definitely a need, but here he was sticking out on the board and we said, 'You know what? We need to get Nick Cross.' We think he's a really talented player and he's going to add a lot of talent to the back end." - Colts GM Chris Ballard

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