WESTFIELD, Ind. - As the Colts' returned to practice at Grand Park following Saturday's preseason opener against the Buffalo Bills, they were greeted with some big news.
For the first time since OTAs, safety Julian Blackmon was cleared to practice with the team.
"They [the trainers] kind of had to tone me down because I'm a guy that likes to just go, go, go," Blackmon said. "But getting the mental reps are just as important. So, it's nice to be back and it's just a blessing to have the legs back."
A productive starter, Blackmon had been sidelined with a hamstring injury he sustained earlier this offseason.
However, even though he couldn't be on the field with his teammates for the first few weeks of training camp, that did not mean that he was content to idly fade into the background.
At every practice, Blackmon could be found on the sideline calling out plays to the defense, joking with peers and passing knowledge on to his younger teammates about things they could have done differently on a certain play.
"I like to be there and be energy for my guys," Blackmon said. "So being on the sidelines, you can only do so much, but being a part of it is something completely different."
This year, Blackmon will undergo a bit of a learning curve of his own as he will be making the transition from free safety to strong safety, a position that he has not played since coming into the NFL back in 2020.
Even though he hasn't had the chance to get many on-field reps at the new position this training camp, Blackmon said he was still finding ways to get prepared.
"I've been engaged mentally," Blackmon said. "It's completely different when you go out there and play but because of OTAs, I had that time to get a good, solid foundation of where I was, learning with the coaches and making sure I knew what I was doing when I came back."
His preparedness will not only be key for his own performance, but for that of the entire defense.
This is especially true for the team's cornerbacks who, excluding Kenny Moore II, have not had much starting experience at the pro level.
"Because they are a little bit inexperienced in that area, I have to be more vocal," Blackmon said. "And I have to let them know certain things so that it makes their RPMs (we like to say) slow down. So, I do everything I can to take everything in and let guys know, 'Hey, this is coming. Watch out for this.' just because it helps them and slows it down for them."