SALT LAKE CITY — Indianapolis Colts coach Frank Reich sees the confidence growing in one of his young rookie defenders, safety Julian Blackmon.
The former Utah and Layton High defender who’s recovered from a torn ACL is already starting for Indianapolis and making his presence felt one month into his pro career.
Blackmon recorded a professional first Sunday in the Colts’ 19-13 victory over the Chicago Bears, intercepting a Nick Foles pass in the fourth quarter, a play that helped Indianapolis fend off the Bears, who’ve made a habit of rallying for victories early in the season.
“Very excited about Julian’s progress physically, mentally, in every way in our scheme, just the way he is in the huddle,” Reich said in his postgame video press conference. “His presence, you feel the confidence from him, he’s making plays. He’s playing with a lot of confidence and a lot of conviction right now and I just think it will keep getting better.”
The big moment for Blackmon — a third-round selection in April’s 2020 NFL draft — came in front of a friend, with former Utah secondary teammate Jaylon Johnson, a second-round pick this year, now a starting cornerback in Chicago.
“I was just thankful to take one away because I should have had one earlier in the game,” Blackmon said of his interception.
With the Bears inside the Colts 30 but facing a third-and-10 with just over 11 minutes to play and trailing by 13, Foles dropped back and fired a pass over the middle. The pass, which was a bit high, deflected off the hands of intended receiver Anthony Miller and Blackmon quickly caught the tipped pass at the Indianapolis 7, then returned the pick 15 yards. That set up a drive that ended with the Colts kicking a field goal to increase their lead to 19-3 with 3:51 to play.
Colts linebacker Anthony Walker, who heaped high praise on Blackmon after the game, made sure the Indianapolis defenders on that play gathered for a photo op after the interception.
“I had to make sure we did that for him. That’s a special moment, we understand that,” Walker told reporters. “Obviously, Julian is a special talent, to be able to find the ball the way he does and make big hits, everything like that. He’s a special player. He’s young, but we’re excited to have him. We appreciate him and all that he brings to the table.”
Blackmon’s influence in Indianapolis is also being noticed by those covering him.
“In the passing game, Blackmon remained in the right spots. He pursued plays and forced incompletions. As Foles turned to desperation and looked deep, Blackmon always played behind receivers looking to run by him,” Indianapolis Star reporter Michael McCleary wrote.
It was a solid overall day for Blackmon in his second straight start, as he also had a solo tackle and three pass deflections, including one on a third down, while playing every defensive snap for Indianapolis. Johnson had a nice game, too, finishing with two tackles and a pair of pass deflections.
In the second quarter, Blackmon also forced a fumble that teammate Kenny Moore recovered but it was reversed upon review and ruled an incompletion.
“I just love playing football. I just love being able to make plays for my team, my teammates,” Blackmon told reporters. “They’re always telling me, ‘Hey, you can do this, we need you,’ kind of thing. Kenny Moore pulled me aside at halftime and told me that and it kind of woke me up a little, made me want to make plays.”
Here’s a look at how each of the Utah ties on active NFL rosters performed during the fourth week of the 2020 NFL season:
Broncos 37, Jets 28
- Garett Bolles, OT, Utah, Snow College and Westlake High: Started at left tackle and played all 70 offensive snaps for the Broncos and seven on special teams.
- Tim Patrick, WR, Utah: Started at wide receiver and had a career night, catching a 7-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter as part of a six-reception, 113-yard night. Patrick had three catches of 20-plus yards — that included a 40-yard grab on a touchdown drive and a 31-yarder on the go-ahead field goal drive — while playing 53 offensive snaps.
- Harvey Langi, LB, BYU, Utah and Bingham High: Played 27 special teams snaps.
- Javelin Guidry, DB, Utah: Played 14 special teams snaps.
Panthers 31, Cardinals 21
- Tyler Larsen, C, Utah State and Jordan High: Played two offensive snaps and six on special teams.
Kylie Fitts, OLB, Utah: Had one solo special teams tackle while playing 12 defensive snaps and 22 on special teams.
Leki Fotu, DT, Utah and Herriman High: Had one solo tackle while playing 22 defensive snaps.
Bengals 33, Jaguars 25
- LeShaun Sims, CB, Southern Utah: Started at cornerback and had eight tackles, including six solo stops, and a pass deflection on a first-and-goal play while playing 59 defensive snaps.
- No locals on active roster
Browns 49, Cowboys 38
- Porter Gustin, DE, Salem Hills High: Played 41 defensive snaps and seven on special teams.
- Sione Takitaki, LB, BYU: Started at Sam linebacker and had four tackles, including a solo stop, while playing 29 defensive snaps and seven on special teams.
- Bradlee Anae, DE, Utah: Played 18 special teams snaps.
- Francis Bernard, LB, Utah, BYU and Herriman High: Had a solo special teams tackle while playing 13 special teams snaps.
- Dalton Schultz, TE, Bingham High: Started at tight end and had a fourth-quarter 26-yard touchdown catch while finishing with four receptions for 72 yards and playing 63 offensive snaps.
Saints 35, Lions 29
- Kaden Elliss, B, Judge Memorial High: Had a solo special teams tackle while playing 16 special teams snaps.
- Taysom Hill, QB, BYU: Had three carries for 6 yards, one reception for 8 yards and fumbled once while playing 20 offensive snaps and seven on special teams.
- Marcus Williams, FS, Utah: Started at free safety and had five solo tackles, including one a yard short of a first down on a third-down play, while playing all 61 defensive snaps for the Saints and one on special teams. He also had an interception wiped out by a New Orleans penalty.
- Miles Killebrew, S, Southern Utah: Had two solo special teams tackles while playing 22 special teams snaps.
- John Penisini, DL, Utah, Snow College and West Jordan High: Had five tackles, including one solo stop and a tackle for loss, while playing 22 defensive snaps.
Vikings 31, Texans 23
- No locals on roster
- No locals on roster
Seahawks 31, Dolphins 23
- Cody Barton, LB, Utah and Brighton High: Started at outside linebacker and had four tackles, including a solo stop, and a pass deflection that led to a Seattle interception while playing 24 defensive snaps and 16 on special teams.
- Bryan Mone, DT, Highland High: Had two tackles, including a solo stop, a half-sack and a quarterback hurry while playing 19 defensive snaps.
- Bobby Wagner, MLB, Utah State: Started at middle linebacker and had a team-high 12 tackles, including 10 solo stops, along with a pass deflection while playing all 71 defensive snaps for the Seahawks and six on special teams.
- Eric Rowe, S, Utah: Started at safety and had six solo tackles while playing 50 defensive snaps and two on special teams.
- Kyle Van Noy, LB, BYU: Started at linebacker and had four solo tackles while playing all 63 defensive snaps for the Dolphins.
Buccaneers 38, Chargers 31
- No locals on roster
- Michael Davis, CB, BYU: Started at cornerback and had a 78-yard interception return for a touchdown in the first quarter to go with six tackles, including four solo stops, and a pass deflection while playing al 76 defensive snaps for the Chargers and seven on special teams.
- Alohi Gilman, S, Orem High: Had a solo special teams tackle while playing 16 special teams snaps.
- Sam Tevi, OT, Utah: Started at left tackle while playing 52 offensive snaps and six on special teams.
- Nick Vigil, LB, Utah State and Fremont High: Played five defensive snaps and 13 on special teams.
Ravens 31, Football Team 17
- No locals on active roster
- Jared Norris, LB, Utah: Had a solo special teams tackle while playing 17 special teams snaps.
- Nate Orchard, DE, Utah and Highland High: Had two assisted tackles while playing 26 defensive snaps and three on special teams.
- Alex Smith, QB, Utah: Not active for game.
Rams 17, Giants 9
- Terrell Burgess, S, Utah: Had a solo tackle while playing 19 defensive snaps and 19 on special teams.
- Jackson Barton, OT, Utah and Brighton High: Not active for game.
- Kyler Fackrell, LB, Utah State: Had sack for 10 yards on a third-down play to go with four solo tackles, including three tackles for loss, and a quarterback hurry while playing 42 defensive snaps and two on special teams.
Colts 19, Bears 11
- Julian Blackmon, S, Utah and Layton High: Started at free safety and had a fourth-quarter interception deep inside Colts territory, with Indianapolis holding on to a 16-3 lead. Blackmon also had three pass deflections, including one on a third down, and a solo tackle while playing all 62 defensive snaps for the Colts.
- Noah Togiai, TE, Hunter High: Not active for game.
- Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah: Started at cornerback and had two solo tackles and two pass deflections, including one on a third down, while playing 71 defensive snaps.
- Patrick Scales, LS, Utah State and Weber High: Played eight special teams snaps.
Bills 30, Raiders 23
- Taron Johnson, CB, Weber State: Had seven tackles, including five solo stops, while playing 53 defensive snaps and 17 on special teams.
- Zack Moss, RB, Utah: Not active for game for second straight game with a toe injury.
- Devontae Booker, RB, Utah: Played six offensive snaps and six on special teams.
- Andre James, OT, Herriman High: Played five special teams snaps.
- Nevin Lawson, CB, Utah State: Started at cornerback and had five tackles, including four solo stops, while playing 57 defensive snaps and 12 on special teams.
- Dallin Leavitt, S, Utah State: Not active for game.
Eagles 25, 49ers 20
- Sua Opeta, OG, Weber State and Stansbury High: Played three special teams snaps.
- Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU: Played 13 defensive snaps and one on special teams.
- Fred Warner, LB, BYU: Started at Mike linebacker and had five tackles, including three solo stops and one short of the line to gain on a third down, and a quarterback hurry on a third down that forced a punt while playing all 62 defensive snaps for the 49ers and one on special teams.
- Mitch Wishnowsky, P, Utah: Had four punts for 177 yards — a 44.3-yard average — with two punts inside the 20 and a long of 51 while also serving as holder and kickoff specialist on nine special teams snaps.
Chiefs 26, Patriots 10
- Marcus Kemp, WR, Layton High: Played 11 special teams snaps.
- Daniel Sorensen, S, BYU: Had six tackles, including five solo stops and two tackles for loss, while playing 52 defensive snaps and nine on special teams.
- Darwin Thompson, RB, Utah State: Played nine special teams snaps.
- No locals on roster
Packers 30, Falcons 16
- Jordan Love, QB, Utah State: Not active for game.
- Jamaal Williams, RB, BYU: Listed as one of two starting running backs for the Packers and had a career-best 95 receiving yards on eight receptions, including a 29-yard grab and later a 15-yard catch that got Green Bay inside the Atlanta red zone and was part of a touchdown drive. Williams also had eight carries for 10 yards while playing 36 offensive snaps — a team-high among running backs — and nine on special teams.
- No locals on roster