As the Indianapolis Colts prepare for a 2015 season in which there are super high expectations, particularly for the offense, one of the most notable position battles will be taking place along the offensive line at the center position. And if you ask the team's offensive line coach, Joe Gilbert, he'll tell you that the center position is a very important one for the offensive line unit.
"The center spot for us, that's where it starts," Gilbert told Colts.com's Steve Andress earlier this week. Gilbert added that the center has to be on the same page as quarterback Andrew Luck when he gets to the line of scrimmage, making it especially important - and, as Gilbert noted, making it especially "remarkable" that undrafted rookie Jonotthan Harrison started ten games last year.
This year, Harrison is battling with Khaled Holmes for the starting center spot, a competition that should be interesting to watch this offseason and into training camp. Holmes is the presumed starter, though he's far from a sure thing to start in week one. He played in eight games last year, starting five, including all three of the playoff games. He entered training camp as the starter but was injured in preseason. He wasn't overly impressive when he played last year, but he was an upgrade over Harrison. The undrafted rookie played in 15 games last year, starting 10, though he wasn't too impressive. Still, for Harrison to start ten games as a rookie should help him moving forward. This offseason and into training camp, Holmes and Harrison will be competing for the starting center spot for an offense that figures to be elite in 2015.
"We're rotating them through the time right now," Gilbert said. "I think they know the competition is between the two of them."
"The one good thing is they get along," he continued. "They compete. They know they're competing, but again, I think that's the part that really pushes both of them to really hit their max. Instead of just being complacent, both of them know they have to come out and compete every day."
That's what they both are currently doing, and that's what they'll be doing in training camp as well. The Colts are hoping that one emerges as the answer at the position - one that Gilbert considers very important in large part because of the responsibilities that go with anchoring the line - and that they can have continuity and consistency this year, something that they didn't have a year ago. And if the Colts can get that in 2015, it will go a long way toward improving the offensive line and improving the offense as a whole.