INDIANAPOLIS -- From taking an 18-minute flight on team owner Jim Irsay’s private jet from his hometown of West Chester, Ohio, to quickly taking care of his contract situation, Indianapolis Colts rookie center Ryan Kelly has jumped into the NFL with both feet.
Kelly agreed to a four-year, $10.4 million contract that features a team option on Thursday. On Friday he was on the field practicing for the first time since January 12 as part of the three-day rookie minicamp, and surely by no coincidence his locker is right next to that of quarterback Andrew Luck.
“I think it’s just trying to get acclimated to the NFL the best possible,” Kelly said. “It’s such a jump from college to being a professional athlete.”
Kelly has already had a conversation with his new teammate about the transition from college where he was named the nation’s best center last season at Alabama to playing in the NFL.
“He said, ‘Look, we’re all learning it,’” Kelly said. "So I think at the same time it’s probably a little helpful that way, but certainly you’re going from a college offense to an NFL. You’re a professional now. There are things that are obviously going to be more challenging, so it’s going to take time. But it’s a big challenge and it’s going to take a lot of work, so nothing that I haven’t already put in when I was at Alabama. It’s just going to be elevated to another level.”
Kelly played in a pro-style offense under Nick Saban at Alabama, but there will be a learning curve for the No. 18 pick in the draft. The goal is to make the curve as easy as possible because the Colts want their problems at center to stop. Kelly is about to become the sixth different center the Colts have used since selecting Luck in 2012.
“He’s a pro,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. “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. … He fits right in. We knew this. It’s not too big for him.”