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Chuck Pagano Expects Competition for Starting Center Spot

Here we go again: Colts head coach Chuck Pagano was noncommittal on Tuesday morning as to who his starting center would be for the 2015 season, instead leaving the door open for competition between Khaled Holmes and Jonotthan Harrison.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

One of the story lines lines that came out of the Colts' 2014 season and that continued on for much of the season was the competition at the center position.

The Colts entered training camp with Khaled Holmes as their starting center, but he was hurt on the first drive of the preseason.  Then Jonotthan Harrison, an undrafted rookie, stepped in and played well for the rest of the preseason, but the Colts claimed A.Q. Shipley off of waivers the week before the regular season started and then plugged him in as the team's starting center for the first four weeks.  After that, the Colts tried to (unsuccessfully) transition quietly and smoothly to Harrison as their starting center, benching Shipley for no apparent reason (he had been playing well).  Harrison really struggled over the next ten weeks as the team's starter, however, and so the team then made the surprise move to start Holmes in week sixteen.  Holmes then remained the starter for the final five games (including playoffs), and he played better than Harrison.

One thing that was clear entering this offseason was that the Colts still really like both Khaled Holmes and Jonotthan Harrison.  So much so, in fact, that they didn't even offer restricted free agent A.Q. Shipley a tender, allowing him to sign with the Cardinals.  It has been widely assumed (and should still be assumed) that Khaled Holmes will be the team's starter in 2015 - but perhaps it's not as certain as some might have thought.

Talking with the media this morning at the annual league meetings, Colts head coach Chuck Pagano said that, once again, there will be competition at the center spot.

It's understandable for the Colts not to be giving up on either of these players yet, as both do have talent and potential and could continue to develop.  And to be honest, I think it's perfectly fine for them to plan on Holmes being their starting center, as I still think he could be a solid center at the NFL level if he gets an extended chance and stays healthy.  I also like Harrison, but he needs more work.  Look, here's the deal: it should be Khaled Holmes.  Competition is a very good thing to have and in that regard that's healthy, but the team also has to realize what they have and move forward as such.  There's not much wrong with picking Holmes and then allowing Harrison to continue to compete.  There's a fine line to walk when it comes to having guys compete for a spot and trying to develop continuity at a spot and work with one guy as the starter.  We'll see where this particular competition lies, but if last year was any indication, it might be rough.

There's nothing wrong with refusing to name a starting center in March - nothing at all.  And this might just be a case of coach speak where Pagano knows who he plans on starting (Holmes) but wants to promote competition, because competition isn't a bad thing.  But it sure sounds like we're in for another offseason (and perhaps longer) of debate and discussion about the competition at the center position.