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Who Should Start at Center for the Colts?

With the return of AQ Shipley and the injury to Khaled Holmes, who should start at center?

Alex Trautwig

Currently on the Indianapolis Colts, there are three players that are centers. The first is Khaled Holmes, who ever since around mid-May has been expected to be the starter. The current backup is Jonotthan Harrison, who is an undrafted rookie from Florida, who impressed during the preseason. The final player (and the most interesting of them all) is A.Q. Shipley, who was recently picked up off waivers. All three are legitimate candidates, but which one of them should start?

Jonotthan Harrison’s odds were stacked against him at the beginning of training camp. However, after a solid training camp and an impressive preseason, where he played an average of 32 snaps a game and was amongst the best offensive linemen on the team. Harrison was a talented center at Florida and some thought he could be a draft pick. Harrison could be a starter down the line, but it doesn’t seem like he’s ready to take over now. It’s at least reassuring to know that he could come in and play.

A.Q. Shipley is the most interesting of all the centers. Shipley played with the Colts in 2012 but was eventually traded to Baltimore in May 2013. During his time with the Colts, Shipley was relied on a numerous amount of times to replace Samson Satele because of injuries or poor play. He would come in and perform nicely. On Pro Football Focus, Shipley had a +8.0 in 10 games (1 playoff), which is an impressive score. In the games he started, he had a +8.7 rating. Shipley was very impressive that season and many thought they should get rid of Satele in favor of Shipley. With the Ravens, Shipley spent the latter portion of the season as the starting left guard but had a few disappointing performances. Left guard isn’t his best positon and is a natural center. Could we see AQ Shipley this season? Is he the right choice to start at center?

Well, Shipley will have to prove to the coaches that he’s better than Khaled Holmes. Khaled Holmes has been made out by the coaching staff, front office and the media to be the starting center for the last few months now. Holmes has little experience in the NFL, only playing in a handful of plays last season before suffering an injury that ended his season. He also had injury issues in college. Holmes was injured after the 1st preseason, a performance that was praised by many, but yet again cut short due to injury. Holmes is a talented player, who garnered a 4th round pick in the NFL Draft; it’s just his injury history that is the main concern.

After reviewing all the players, who is the best candidate to start? It seems like at this point, it should be down to A.Q. Shipley and Khaled Holmes. The front office and coaches want Holmes to start, but is that truly the right way to go? After reviewing the players, it seems like it is. Holmes is the more talented of the two and has the most upside. He can become the long-term center for the Colts. The only thing holding him back is his injuries, but if healthy, he’s the guy. Shipley provides very good depth as a backup and like he showed when he was the backup to Satele, he can come in and play at any time. The Colts also have Harrison if needed. This group has good depth and if Holmes can stay healthy, they could finally have some consistency in between the tackles. Holmes is the guy; let’s just hope the injury bug doesn’t hit him.