INDIANAPOLIS — It finally happened.
Michael Badgley missed his first kick in an Indianapolis uniform on Sunday, hooking a 35-yard field goal attempt wide left in a domed NRG Stadium environment.
In another city, Badgley’s new role as the primary Colts kicker might be in jeopardy. The kicker that held the job for all of 2020 and the first five games of 2021 remains on the roster. All the Colts would have to do is designate Rodrigo Blankenship for return.
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But it doesn’t sound like that is going to happen.
“I’m not concerned,” Colts coach Frank Reich said. “I guess it was bound to happen that he was going to miss a kick somewhere. I’m not going to overreact to one game.”
Badgley has made 11 of his 12 field goal attempts and all 32 extra points since taking over for an injured Blankenship after the Indianapolis incumbent suffered a hip injury in warmups in Baltimore and struggled through a disastrous performance, missing three kicks against the Ravens, including the potential game-winner.
A former Colt whose career began as Adam Vinatieri’s understudy in Indianapolis during the 2018 preseason, the former Charger was initially signed to fill in the gap left after the Colts moved Blankenship to injured reserve.
Then Badgley got on a roll.
“I mean, he’s been kicking exceedingly well,” Reich said before the miss in Houston. “This is a meritocracy, as we all know, and he’s certainly earned that right.”
Only time will tell if Badgley’s hot streak is a sign of improvement or if he will revert back to the kicker who made 80% of his kicks in three years in Los Angeles, leaving the door open for Tristan Vizcaino to take his Chargers spot during training camp this year. The kicking carousel is famously volatile; Vizcaino is already out in Los Angeles, replaced by long-time Washington kicker Dustin Hopkins.
After he was cut by the Chargers, Badgley made a cameo with Tennessee, then found himself back among the traveling band of kickers who spend each week competing for spots that open up around the league.
“I think everyone goes through a little bit of adversity in life, or this game,” Badgley said. “It’s kind of how you respond, and what people think of it.”
When the Colts called and asked Badgley to come in for a tryout after Blankenship’s injury, the veteran had to know the opportunity might be temporary. Blankenship kicked for the Colts for 21 games, and although he didn’t take the world by storm, making 84.3% of his kicks, the young kicker did bring stability to a position that had been thrown into turmoil by Vinatieri’s collapse in 2019, a collapse that led to the legend’s eventual retirement.
A temporary posting is still better than life on the tryout circuit.
“I just saw it as an opportunity,” Badgley said. “They don’t come too often, right?”
Being given a chance back in Indianapolis helped Badgley get hot coming out of the gates.
“This is the only team that really gave me a chance coming out of college,” Badgley said. “It was super easy when I came back here. A lot of the same faces. A lot of the same coaches.”
If he’s going to make Indianapolis his home, though, and feel secure enough to get a permanent residence, Badgley has to get on another streak, at a minimum, and preferably start making some kicks from beyond 50 yards, plus prove his mettle in high-leverage situations at the end of games.
Badgley has made just 3 of 9 attempts of 50 yards or longer in his career, and he hasn’t attempted a kick from that distance with the Colts yet.
Part of that trend is Reich’s aggressive, analytical nature on fourth downs.
But Indianapolis could use a kicker they can trust to go bombs away when the Colts get into a 4th-and-long situation between the 35 and 40-yard line. The same goes for game-winning opportunities; Blankenship might have been injured, but he’d made two field goals against Baltimore before missing a potential game-winner that should have held off the Ravens’ furious comeback.
“I’m rolling with the punches, too, here,” Badgley said. “I’m never going to sell myself short, either, though.”
One miss isn’t enough to lose his chance at this opportunity.
And with the teams remaining on the schedule, Badgley might have plenty of chances to firm up his hold on the Indianapolis kicking job.
Follow IndyStar Colts Insider Joel A. Erickson on Twitter at @JoelAErickson.
This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Colts won't cut bait on kicker Michael Badgley after one miss