Looking through our picture database, there's not a single one of Khaled Holmes in an actual game for the Colts last year. He got in for just a handful of snaps total last year - not nearly enough to make any judgment whatsoever. In that lack of playing time, however, plenty have taken that to be judgment itself - that starting Khaled Holmes isn't the smart thing to do.
I'm not one of those people. Yes, I know that I'm the same guy who was adamant about the Colts addressing the center position in free agency, but the more I've thought about it, the more I'm ok with the Colts going with Khaled Holmes at center. After all, they drafted him for a reason, and you can't really give up on him this early on. The problem that I have right now, however, is that there really isn't a backup plan whatsoever. Phil Costa? He's retired. Jonotthan Harrison and/or FN Lutz? They were both undrafted free agents, and while they might end up being good players, can you really count on or depend on that? Donald Thomas? Don't you kind of need him at guard, where he's better anyways? Jack Mewhort? He's a rookie who played tackle in college and who is playing guard right now for the Colts - he can play center if needed, but is that really the best backup plan you could come up with?
That's where the real pressure on Khaled Holmes lies - he must play and he must produce, because all of the other options the Colts have bring much more question marks with them than even Holmes does.
Starting Holmes brings plenty of question marks in itself. Holmes, the team's fourth round draft pick last year, missed most of camp with an injury and ended up laying only a few snaps the entire season - despite the lackluster play of starter Samson Satele. The fact that Holmes couldn't get into the lineup last year - even for a good number more plays than he did - brings serious question marks and some red flags. Those aren't disqualifying questions or flags, it just means that the Colts needed to tread carefully after they made the absolutely correct decision to part ways with Satele this offseason. Instead, there's really no competition - Khaled Holmes will be the team's starting center come week one when the Colts travel to Denver. Write it down. Put it in the books. Barring an injury, Khaled Holmes is the team's starting center.
As such, with hardly any NFL experience and the team's franchise player standing directly behind him, there's plenty of pressure on the young Khaled Holmes. The offensive line is actually looking good, with Anthony Castonzo and Gosder Cherilus at the tackle spots and then with Donald Thomas coming back from injury (hopefully before the start of the season). The hopes with Hugh Thornton is that he will improve off of a bad rookie season and play better at right guard than at left guard, and then the depth the Colts have is improved from last year. But what about the center spot - the guy who snaps the ball to Andrew Luck, calls the protections, and protects Luck and helps pave the way for Trent Richardson and the run game? That's the big question. I don't have much worry about him being able to handle the protections and I think by the time the season rolls around he'll have the chemistry with Andrew Luck so that snapping isn't a problem - but how well can he block against NFL defenders? We can only speculate, because we haven't seen him in a game enough to formulate any type of opinion.
The Colts believe that they have a good one in Holmes, and I hope so too. I think he'll do a respectable job at center this year, but the bottom line is that they don't have much choice - Holmes has to step up and play well, or else Andrew Luck will be under duress constantly again this year. The Colts don't have an adequate backup plan at center and their starter has played just a handful of starts in the NFL ever. That doesn't mean that Khaled Holmes can't do it, but it means that there are question marks, and those question marks won't be answered until we actually see Holmes on the field as the starter in week one. Clearly, the pressure is on.