One of the things Colts general manager Chris Ballard said he hoped to see from Bernhard Raimann this offseason is the second-year tackle putting on some weight.
Raimann checked that box – he's added 15 pounds since the end of his rookie season – and is taking the lessons he learned in Year 1 and applying them to Year 2. One of the positive lessons is he learned he belongs in the NFL, but he's focused most of his attention on the reps he didn't win as a rookie to figure out how he can win them going forward.
"I've always been a perfectionist," Raimann said. You could have 70 good snaps and then you get one or two bad ones in there, you're gonna think about those the most the next day, especially if you don't win as a team. So you just kind of get in your own head a little bit, but that's also something you gotta learn is it's a week to week league and you got to learn from the mistakes, and then improve them. But looking back at the last season, obviously you kind of watch those bad plays over and over again, and just gonna make sure they don't happen again."
Raimann played better as the season went on – he re-entered the Colts' starting lineup in Week 9 and steadily improved his consistency after a rough "welcome to the NFL" debut in Week 5 against the Denver Broncos. And, at least by Pro Football Focus' evaluation, he graded out favorably compared to the rest of last year's rookie tackles:
Pro Football Focus charged seven sacks to Raimann in 2022, though only three of those came across his final six games of the season. Still, he mentioned this week the importance of keeping his focus throughout an entire game to avoid those one or two plays that lead to a sack – even if he plays well for the other snaps.
Raimann's mentality, too, has already impressed his new coaches.
"I think the trajectory is heading in the right direction with him," offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter said. "As a young player in this league, struggles as a rookie, they're not uncommon, right? Those things do happen. He's got some talent, he's got a great mentality around the building, he's really into — whether it's our meetings offensively or coach (Tony) Sparano (Jr.)'s meeting offensive line-wise, he's asking the right questions, he's working to get better. A lot of times in this league, going from Year 1 to Year 2 can be one of the biggest steps you'll have in your career."
Raimann will have to compete to be the Colts' starting left tackle in 2023, but his 16 games (11 starts) make him the second-most experienced tackle on the team's roster behind right tackle Braden Smith. And he'll have a chance to play in front of his family in Week 10, when the Colts face the New England Patriots in Frankfurt, Germany – which is about a seven-hour drive from where his family lives in Vienna, Austria.
Only Raimann's dad has seen him play football in the United States (he came over for the Colts' Week 8 game against the Washington Commanders; his family hasn't seen him play since he was a wide receiver with the Vienna Vikings in high school.
And if all goes right for Raimann in the coming weeks and months, his family could see an ascending left tackle locking down his quarterback's blind side in Frankfurt.
"I'm excited about seeing what kind of player he becomes," Cooter said. "I think that story is not fully written right now — that story's kind of being written. He's putting in the work and he's doing the right things. The arrow's moving in the right direction. We're excited about working with him and where he ends up, we don't know, but hopefully keeps this thing going the right way."