INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Chad Kelly insists a few months away from
football helped put life in perspective.
He read the Bible while living in his parents’ basement. He
recommitted himself to the game. And now he believes he can avoid
any more trouble off the field.
The once-promising young quarterback thinks his latest humbling
experience will help jump-start his career with the Indianapolis
Colts in what even he acknowledges could be his last NFL chance.
”You just have to put in enough work for those guys to trust you
because it’s going to take some time,” he said Wednesday. ”There
have been things that have happened in the past, but I am up for
the challenge to prove to these guys I am dedicated to this.”
Only time will tell if Kelly will be one of the few who actually
turns the corner, though he may have found the perfect landing spot.
His new coach, Frank Reich, was a longtime backup to Kelly’s uncle,
Jim, a Hall of Fame quarterback with the Buffalo Bills. The man who
signed Kelly, general manager Chris Ballard, decided to take a
low-risk gamble by establishing guidelines for Kelly to meet. Kelly
declined to elaborate on any specific provisions.
Expectations are low in Indy, too, given that the Colts already
have an established Pro Bowler in Andrew Luck, a solid backup in
Jacoby Brissett and a known quantity in Phillip Walker as their No.
And with Luck missing his second week of offseason workouts because
of a strained calf, Kelly will get even more snaps so he can learn
a new offense.
”He has come in and he’s picked up the system well,” Reich said.
”I think he’s – from what we saw at the rookie minicamp – he has
progressed from there. I think Chad shows to have a little bit of a
knack and some instincts. He has made his share of mistakes out
there, but I think he’s certainly showing he belongs out there
NFL scouts all saw his promise. And the Denver Broncos overlooked
the potential pitfalls when they took Kelly with the final pick of
the 2017 draft.
He was booted off Clemson’s roster after arguing with coaches
during the 2014 spring game. He pleaded guilty to a non-criminal
charge of disorderly conduct stemming from a December 2014 incident
in which he allegedly punched two bouncers and threatened to use an
AK-47 to ”spray the place” after he being ejected from the bar.
In October 2016, Kelly charged onto the field when a bench-clearing
brawl erupted during his brother’s high school football game. And
then there was the torn ACL that ended his senior season at Ole
There was more trouble in the NFL.
After missing his entire rookie season to rehab from the knee
injury, he took only one snap, a kneeldown, before he was cut in
2018 after he left a Halloween party and entered a house belonging
to a man and woman he did not know. In March, he pleaded guilty to
a second-degree trespassing charge.
Over all those months, Kelly pondered his future. A few teams were
interested but none was willing to sign him.
”I really didn’t know,” he said when asked if he thought he’d get
another chance. ”I really couldn’t tell you what I was feeling
like – you were kind of lost, you kind of look to the good Lord,
you talk to close friends and family, and at the end of the day
you’ve got to move on. You’ve got to get ready for whatever life
brings you. I was just reading, doing as much as I could to stay
active on the field and in the weight room.”
Indy finally offered him a tryout earlier this month during a
rookie minicamp and apparently he did enough during those three
days to convince Ballard he was worth a chance. Kelly signed May 20.
If he sticks around long enough, Kelly will at least give the Colts
an extra training camp arm to diminish the wear and tear on Luck.
But if he stays out of trouble and finally starts playing football
the way many believe he can, Kelly could give the Colts another
solid backup option.
”There is something there,” Reich said. ”He can throw on the
run, and then when he moves in the pocket I think he’s got some
natural movement instincts and can deliver the ball from different
arm angles. He has played a lot of football for his age and thrown
a lot of balls.”