When the Colts entered training camp, they weren't ready to name a starting center but instead continued to highlight the competition we saw in OTAs, when both Khaled Holmes and Jonotthan Harrison saw first-team reps. Now, as training camp draws to a close, the team is still unwilling to name a starter at the position, but their actions couldn't be more different. Through the two weeks the team was in training camp, Jonotthan Harrison didn't take a single first-team snap, as instead it was Khaled Holmes.
The reason is, in part, due to the fact that the Colts want to develop continuity up front, something they didn't have last year. They kept their same starting five together for all of camp (besides for today, when Todd Herremans got a rest day), and that could pay dividends if those five stay healthy. In addition, however, while it is somewhat difficult to evaluate offensive linemen in training camp, Holmes seemed to set himself apart with his play as well and had a strong camp. So the next step for him? Do in games exactly what he's been doing in camp.
"We haven't even played a preseason game yet," head coach Chuck Pagano cautioned today. "He has done a great job, don't get me wrong, he has done a great job. We have to go play and then we will evaluate from there. We have to get to a game. Right now, he's working with the ones and if you guys want to call him, he is listed on the depth chart as a one, so we can call him whatever we want to call him. But he knows he has to go transfer what he has done in the first two weeks, he has to take it to the game and play a high level."
It is very important that Holmes continue to play well in actual games because, well, it doesn't mean much if you produce in practice but can't in games. So Pagano is right in saying that, before he declares a "starter," he needs to see Holmes in a game.
With that said, however, I'll add this: I'd be shocked if anybody other than Khaled Holmes was starting at center in week one for the Colts. Shocked. Holmes has separated himself from Harrison in camp and has spent a lot of time working with Andrew Luck. The Colts clearly value continuity up front and it's important to Chuck Pagano, Pep Hamilton, Andrew Luck, and others, and in particular it's important for the quarterback and center to be familiar with each other. Not having Holmes start would erase all of the work that was put in during training camp and would likely lead to less continuity again. Barring an injury, I would be totally shocked if it's not Khaled Holmes starting for the Colts at center.
But that's talking about week one. Right now, the goal for Holmes is simply to continue to play well and improve and translate what he has worked on this offseason and in training camp to game situations. We'll get our first glimpse of that on Sunday when the Colts take on the Eagles in the preseason opener.