Jeff Saturday lived the often-thankless life of an offensive linemen in the public eye for 14 seasons. Being an offensive lineman – even an elite one – means rarely being highlighted for your good plays, while seeing the times you got beat getting played over and over again on someone else's highlight reel.
So Saturday has a particular understanding of what rookie left tackle Bernhard Raimann has gone through, and will keep going through, over the course of his first year in the NFL.
"Offensive linemen, you're never gonna be highlighted for the good that you do," Saturday said. "And there's some really good plays that he has, and there's some things that he does exceptionally well that will never get noticed. But you're always gonna get noticed for your negative plays. No different than a defensive back, right – when it's bad, everybody knows, when it's good it's a play that nobody cares about.
"But just to have that mental toughness to understand we are getting better, your technique is getting better, your confidence in yourself is growing each and every week, and to keep taking that challenge on and go meet that expectation that we set for you."
That expectation is progress – Saturday wants to see Raimann, along with second-year right guard Will Fries, "take strides each and every week" over the back half of the Colts' season. And for Raimann, the standard set by Saturday is a boost toward that over-arching goal.
"During practice, he's gonna make sure each block is correct, if you have the right leverage and everything," Raimann said. "And if he doesn't like it, he's going to re-start the whole period. As a head coach, he focuses a lot on the offensive line, which is a huge advantage for us, and it's a lot to learn from."
Raimann was penalized twice and, according to Pro Football Focus, allowed two sacks in the Colts' Week 11 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. A week earlier, he not only didn't allow a sack against the Las Vegas Raiders – he didn't allow quarterback Matt Ryan to be pressured, according to PFF.
Consecutive weeks like that are all part of the rookie development process, which Raimann recognizes while making no excuses for the negative plays he's had in 2022.
"A learning curve, definitely," Raimann said. "Lots of mistakes, too many mistakes out there, obviously. So you're just trying to learn from them and get better each and every day."
Still, Raimann has had some good moments this year. His 73.0 PFF run blocking grade is the third-highest among rookie offensive linemen this year, and it doesn't much digging through the tape to find quality pass protection reps.
And Raimann is working to build off those positives while learning from his mistakes.
"Improvements are made but obviously not good enough," Raimann said. "So just need to keep going and need to play better on Monday."
The Colts practiced on Wednesday at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center, but due to their Week 12 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers being on Monday night, the team will have practice reports Thursday, Friday and Saturday this week.