Colts Rookie Center Ryan Kelly 'Ironing Things Out'

First-round draft choice continues to develop relationship on and off field with his important locker neighbor, quarterback Andrew Luck.

The new center of attention admits the Indianapolis Colts are anxious to put on some shoulder pads and play real football.

But today’s NFL means eight weeks of boring offseason training activities, basically strength and conditioning followed by workouts in shirts and shorts.

Center Ryan Kelly, the Colts’ first-round draft choice, continues to settle in on the offensive line in front of quarterback Andrew Luck.

“Yeah, you’re used to spring football in college where you can hit guys for 15 practices in spring ball, but not here,” Kelly said last week. “There are a lot of things that we can do without pads on. Collectively, you get better as our fundamentals go. But obviously I think everybody is a little anxious to get pads on and to be able to do more physical stuff as well.”

The Colts conclude the offseason routine with a three-day mandatory mini-camp beginning Tuesday. A Wednesday night workout at Lucas Oil Stadium is open to the public. When Thursday’s practice ends, the Colts won’t get together again until it’s time to report to Anderson University for training camp in late July. Official camp dates will be announced soon.

Training camp is when the intensity increases. Afternoon practices in full pads raise the level of competition, especially for younger players looking to prove they deserve a roster spot.

Kelly’s spot is secure. The college’s top center last year has been touted as a potential O-line cornerstone for the next decade. Head coach Chuck Pagano offered further evidence of the team’s high expectations when he was asked how long it will take Kelly to get acclimated with Luck.

“Really don’t have a choice in the matter,” Pagano said. “We’ve got some guys here that have played the position, but like anybody else there are going to be growing pains. We know that, he understands that and we’re just going to take it one day at a time and keep working.”

Kelly doesn’t have to look far to find Luck in the locker room. The rookie’s locker is next to No. 12’s.

“New locker mate Ryan right here, he’s been great,” Luck said on May 17th. “He’s smart. He’s conscientious. He’s tough. I think he’s got a little ornery in him. He’s a little bit mean, which is great.

“It’s nice to be locker buddies with Ryan. He’s gone out there and really been impressive in the couple days of team stuff and even last week during the sort of the Phase II stuff and on the field stuff.”

Kelly concedes there still much to learn. The key is to make progress and be trending in a positive direction.

“Certainly things aren’t always going to be as smooth as you want ‘em to, but you’ve got to just keep ironing things out,” he said. “I have a great group of guys around me, so they definitely keep me moving in the right direction. Obviously Andrew is a big part of that as well. I’m just getting better every single day with practice and getting every guy on the same page.”

Luck was asked about how to build a relationship with his center.

“There are probably two parts to that question,” the fifth-year pro said. “I think one is the football side and one is sort of the social outside of football side. We’re forced to hang out every day for at least six hours right now, so that’s pretty easy. We’ll make sure we do some stuff out of the building. We’ll see how much he can eat. (Laughs.)”

So the quarterback hasn’t taken his new center to dinner.

“No, I can’t be too nice to the rookies yet,” Luck said with a smile.

Phillip B. Wilson also can be found on Facebook and Google+.

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