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Colts OT Bernhard Raimann one of the hardest workers Ryan Kelly has been around

Indianapolis Colts center Ryan Kelly had some high praise for left tackle Bernhard Raimann, calling him one of the “hardest working” players that he’s been around.

“One of the hardest working guys I’ve been around,” said Kelly after Wednesday’s minicamp practice. “I think truly that left tackle position I think, above and beyond everybody else, can be a little detailed, micro-oriented.

“I think for him, what he’s really trusting is his athletic ability, which is a big thing for him. He hasn’t played football since he was a little kid, so it’s been a short time compared to most.”

Raimann was an elite athlete coming out of Central Michigan in 2022. He recorded a near-perfect Relative Athletic Score of 9.87, which included a 5.05-second 40-time, along with a 4.49-second shuttle time and 9-09 broad jump.

That athleticism shows up vividly in Raimann’s game, with his ability to operate in space and remain in an advantageous position compared to the pass rusher. It also helps make up for some of the technical aspects of the position that Raimann is still learning, as Kelly alluded to.

After a strong rookie season, Raimann took that year-two leap that many successful NFL players make. In 2023, he gave up four sacks and 34 pressures, ranking 20th out of 50 eligible tackles in PFF’s pass-blocking efficiency and 12th in run-blocking grade.

“I think he’s done a great job maximizing everything he does when he comes to the field, taking coaching,” said Kelly. “I know he’s talked to (Anthony) Castonzo for a little while and just working every day to get better. Again, that builds confidence and builds confidence going into the season.”

The experience that Raimann has gained over the last two seasons, along with the continuity of playing next to All-Pro Quenton Nelson, have been the catalysts behind his development.

In addition to Raimann and Kelly, the Colts will return all five starters from last year’s offensive line unit that ranked top 10 in yards per rush and pressure rate allowed. It wasn’t only Raimann who made a big jump last season, but so did the Colts’ offensive line as a whole under Shane Steichen and Tony Sparano.

“I think after the ’22 season, Tony came in, saw that room for what it was, and it was still a lot of great players but not a lot of confidence,” said Kelly, “and I think there’s a lot of multitude of reasons for that. So when he came in, the first day that we came in last year around this time, it was not even about football Xs and Os, it was about real personal stuff.

“Guys get into that because if you can’t build a relationship in there, then how can you build it out there? And I think that was a good part for us to trust Tony to trust us. And also, he just empowered us to go play. I think that starts with Shane, starts with Tony, starts with Jim Bob. Is to just go out there and play, and just trust our technique, trust that we’re great players and play together.”

Understandably so, much of the attention will be focused on Anthony Richardson and the playmakers around him, but as GM Chris Ballard mentioned this offseason, step No. 1 for consistent success on offense begins with blocking and protecting, which the Colts are very well-equipped to do at a high level.

Story originally appeared on Colts Wire