It may only be rookie minicamp, but Indianapolis Colts center Ryan Kelly has been making the most of the opportunity.
After being selected 18th overall by the Colts in the 2016 NFL Draft, Kelly knows there is a lot of pressure on him to be an immediate contributor. He has not disappointed in the short amount of time he has been a Colt.
Colts’ head coach Chuck Pagano already has some high praise for his rookie center. Again, he has only been in a Colts’ uniform for two practices now.
"“He’s a pro. He’s got a long way to go and I’m not going to set him up to fail or anything. But coming from the program that he came from and playing at the level he’s played at, you can tell that he’s way ahead… It was pretty easy. His recall was excellent. You can just tell. He has presence. He fits right in. We knew this. It’s not too big for him.”"
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This is pretty big praise for a rookie, and it is certainly warranted. Kelly was a leader for the Alabama Crimson Tide, and is slowly working his way into a leadership role with the Colts. While it is good that Kelly is getting praise from coaches right now, it is also not surprising because the Colts are not putting a lot on Kelly’s or any other rookies’ plate.
Right now, the Indianapolis Colts are mainly focusing on getting the 55 rookies currently at their camp acclimated to be an NFL player. They are also emphasizing their offensive and defensive, but at the same time, they are not trying to overload these rookies.
The first real test for Kelly and the rest of the rookies will be next week when the rest of the Colts’ veterans arrive to finish up the team’s minicamp. Fortunately for Kelly, he will not be too far behind the rest of the offensive veterans when it comes to the playbook.
Rob Chudzinski is entering this season as the full-time offensive coordinator. He replaced Pep Hamilton midway through the 2015 season. As a result, everyone on offense is still learning Chudzinski’s offensive system, even quarterback Andrew Luck according to Kelly.
"“Talking to Andrew earlier, he said, ‘Look, we’re all learning it.’ It’s probably a little helpful that way,” Kelly said. “But at the same time, you’re going from a college offense to the NFL. Things are going to be more challenging. It’s going to take time.”"
While it will take some time, Kelly should be striving to learn the playbook faster than anyone. He is the center of the Colts’ offensive line and will make all the blocking scheme calls. He needs to know the nuisances of every play to make sure he calls out the right blocking schemes.
As a side note, Colts’ fans will not need to worry about any sort of holdout regarding Kelly. He signed a four-year, $10.4 million contract earlier this week. So he will be present on the first day of training camp.
Kelly has only been in an Indianapolis Colts’ practice jersey for two days, but he already looks like a stud for them. Things will get harder for him next week. However, it seems Kelly welcomes the challenge and is ready to take on the huge responsibility of protecting Andrew Luck.