How Michael Pittman Jr., Julian Blackmon Are Aiming To Build Off Strong Rookie Debuts

Two of the Colts’ talented 2020 draft picks discussed how a full offseason — and full training camp — should help them improve in their respective second seasons in the NFL. 

WESTFIELD, Ind. — Safety Julian Blackmon didn't come off the Colts' active/non-football injury list until the end of August in 2020, the result of undergoing knee surgery in December 2019. And coupled with 2020's unprecedented offseason — no OTAs, no minicamps, a shortened training camp and no preseason games — that delay made Blackmon's strong rookie season stand out even more. 

But Blackmon felt like he "regressed" late in the 2020 season as his legs started feeling heavy. But now Blackmon, in a much more normal 2021 offseason, feels like he can build on Year 1 and be even better in Year 2. 

"I'm excited because I had spring, got to train in the offseason, get my legs right," Blackmon said. "It's really going to be a good year."

For wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr., his increased comfort entering Year 2 is centered around just having done this -- practice, games, film study at the NFL level -- before. Pittman had 503 yards on 40 catches in 13 regular season games, then impressed with 90 yards on five catches in the Colts' playoff loss to the Buffalo Bills. 

"I feel like I've been here, I feel like I've done this," Pittman said. 

Pittman added that his comfort with the playbook grew last year as the season went on, which allowed him to play faster. Now entering Year 2, Pittman said he feels like he's ready to take a huge step in his game. 

The same goes for Blackmon beyond the conditioning aspect of his development. And rising second-year stars like him, Pittman and Jonathan Taylor will play a big role in the kind of success the Colts expect to have in 2021. 

"Seeing it for the first time but then coming back this year and seeing it again, it's repetition," Blackmon said. "That's where film comes in. Being able to see the things I could've done better on and seeing it now, it's like oh, the second year, now I'm starting to see how you see it, how my coaches see it, how Khari (Willis) sees it. 

"It's been really fun just being able to be out here and actually have a smile on my face instead of being all nervous because last year I was just everywhere, I'm like, I don't know what to do. This year I feel like I'm a lot more put together, a lot more ready to go."

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