Continuity and experience leads to growth for Colts OT Bernhard Raimann

Last season, the Colts needed Bernhard Raimann to take that Year 2 leap that so many successful NFL players make, and the sophomore left tackle delivered.

Following a strong rookie season in 2022, Raimann would play 1,012 snaps for the Colts in 2023. In total, he gave up four sacks and 34 pressures. Out of 50 eligible tackles, Raimann ranked 20th in PFF’s pass-blocking efficiency metric and 12th in run-blocking grade.

“He’s taken the next step in his pass protection stuff and the run game, both run and pass,” said Shane Steichen after Thursday’s practice. “And Tony (Sparano), our O-line coach, has done an excellent job with him.

“But I think with any young player, the more you play the more you learn, and just getting those reps over and over again. But he’s really settled into his own, and it’s really good to see.”

As Steichen mentioned, a key contributor to Raimann’s development has been the reps he’s gotten at the NFL level. Experience is the best teacher, after all. Over his first two seasons, Raimann has played over 1,700 snaps, helping him adjust to the speed of the game and, in general, become more comfortable.

“You get more comfortable with the O-line because you’ve just bonded over the years and you have some great memories and you build some great relationships with those guys,” Raimann said.

“But also, you get used to more of the speed and we have great defensive linemen that we go up against every day. We’re lucky to be able to compete against them every day. But you do get used to it more and more and then you can focus on yourself more.”

Another important factor in Raimann’s growth has been the continuity that the Colts have had along the offensive line, specifically for Raimann, being able to line up next to an elite guard in Quenton Nelson.

“That’s just huge,” said Raiman of playing next to Nelson. “The communication on the field, for me personally it’s huge because I’m right next to him, but his leadership as a whole for the entire offensive line, and just the consistency.

“I know where he’s going to be in pass protection, I know how he’s going to step in the run game. I know how I have to fit in double-teams with him to move the defensive tackle, and that just makes my game that much easier.”

Naturally, much of the attention this offseason was around adding an additional playmaker or two to the offense to help Anthony Richardson. The Colts were able to check that box in the draft by selecting AD Mitchell in the second round.

Now, understandably so, with OTAs underway, much of the attention is on Richardson and his return to the practice field. However, as GM Chris Ballard discussed prior to the draft, consistent success for a young quarterback, and therefore the offense as a whole, begins in the trenches. As Ballard put it, “block and protect” is step No. 1.

A strong run game keeps the offense out of predictable passing situations and opens up the playbook for Shane Steichen, while time in the pocket on passing plays, as we know, can often lead to success by picking a defense apart.

In addition to Raimann and Nelson on the left side, the Colts will be returning all five starters from an offensive line unit that ranked top 10 in yards per carry and pressure rate last season.

Story originally appeared on Colts Wire