Colts RT Braden Smith in a ‘better spot’ following offseason knee surgery

Indianapolis Colts right tackle Braden Smith currently finds himself in a good spot following successful offseason surgery on his left knee.

“Coming out of the offseason, had successful surgery,” said Smith when meeting with reporters on Tuesday. “Had some stuff, you know, did some rehab this offseason, feel like I’m in a pretty good spot. Strength is coming back. Just making sure I can get through the season healthy and make sure we’re being smart with things.”

Smith appeared in only 10 games last season. In the early portion of the year, it was a hip injury that sidelined him, but on top of that, Smith was also dealing with a left knee injury that never allowed him to get back to 100 percent, even when he was on the football field.

As the Colts’ right tackle, Smith didn’t allow any sacks despite never quite being fully healthy. Among all tackles, he ranked sixth in PFF’s pass-blocking efficiency metric, and the Colts averaged 4.6 yards per rush with him on the field versus just 3.9 yards per carry without him.

“Yeah, I mean it’s just kinda like one of those things like, you know, you need to get something done so you go out there and do what you can for your team,” said Smith on playing through the injury.

“You’ve just got to build that mental fortitude over time. Just do what you can, battle through adversity, life’s not going to be smooth all the time. There’s tests in there so you just do what you can and just go out there and play ball.”

Smith did not specify what type of surgery he had on his left knee and didn’t provide a timeline for when he would be back on the practice field either.

As Smith said, he’s taking it day-by-day, but is “making leaps every week.” The current focus is on building up his strength, while the long-term goal is to make sure he can make it through the entire season healthy.

“It was kind of a lingering issue,” added Smith, “basically all the way into the spring. It just kind of progressively got worse. It’s just one of those things. I’m just trying to get back too fast; I wasn’t taking care of myself, probably as good as I should have.

“Obviously, patience plays a lot into that. But was playing from behind the entire year last year and it just never got better. But I’m already in a better spot than I was last year, so I feel confident about that.”

It goes without saying, but having Smith on the field this season, and fully healthy, will provide a big boost for a Colts’ offensive line that should be one of the better units in the NFL. Last season, the Colts ranked ninth in pressure rate allowed and 10th in yards per rush.

Of course, having playmakers around Anthony Richardson is important, and the Colts prioritized that by drafting Adonai Mitchell in the second round. However, as GM Chris Ballard discussed prior to the draft, step one when having a young quarterback is you have to protect them.

“It was definitely one of my more frustrating years,” said Smith. “There wasn’t like a time of the year where I played a large chunk of the games, it was kind of like I play a few here then end up getting injured.

“It was definitely frustrating because you want to be out there playing, and obviously, you can only do so much sitting on the sidelines watching, and you want to help your team. But sometimes it doesn’t always work out that way.”

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