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INDIANAPOLIS – It was not the start, nor the finish that Ryan Kelly at all dreamed of in his second NFL season.
A Training Camp foot injury last August sidelined Kelly for the first 4 games of the season.
After Kelly played/trudged through the next 7 games, the young center suffered a concussion and missed the final month of his second year in the NFL due to lingering effects from the head injury.
In total, Kelly was sidelined for more games last season than he played (9 injured, 7 healthy).
“Starting off the season having the foot surgery probably didn’t help me too much and I just couldn’t really get it going,” Kelly says of his 2017 campaign. “Unfortunately, in the NFL, you’re going to have seasons like that. Hopefully it’s only one, and you can move past it.”
The fresh start for so many people associated with the Colts also counts for Kelly in 2018.
Moving into his 3rd NFL season, Kelly is cleared and full go as he tries to grasp a new offensive system being installed.
Along with returning to health and learning a different offense, Kelly is likely to have 2 new starters next to him at guard.
There’s a chance those 2 guys could both be rookies, too, in Quenton Nelson (at left guard) and Braden Smith (right guard), although veteran Matt Slauson is currently the starter at right guard.
Kelly knows he’s entering an important third season in the NFL.
When the Colts drafted Kelly 18th overall in 2016, they were hoping to get a stable force, that they didn’t have to worry about, at a position that had plagued them a ton from 2012-15.
But that wasn’t the case last season, with Kelly’s injuries really hindering how effective the Colts were in the interior of their line.
In 2018, the Colts could have one of the most unique looking interiors of any team in the league.
You could have high-end picks in Nelson (6th overall), Kelly (18th overall) and Smith (37th overall) potentially occupying those spots.
For that trio to be at its best though, they need for Kelly to become the type of presence they were expecting when drafting a center that high in 2016.