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Colts looking to find a consistent starting five along the offensive line

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The Indianapolis Colts are looking to find a consistent starting five along the offensive line - and as quickly as possible, too.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The Indianapolis Colts haven't done a very good job protecting Andrew Luck during his three years with the team.  That much is apparent to anyone watching the game.  One of the biggest issues that they have faced is that they haven't been able to develop a consistent group up front - in fact, Football Outsiders found that in 2014, no offensive line had less continuity along the offensive line than the Colts and that it was also the second-worst season in that area for any team since 2000.  Part of that was due to injury and part of it was due to coaches decisions, but regardless, it's clear that the Colts want to develop better continuity along the offensive line in 2015.

"Our goal is to obviously find those five starters as soon as possible so that we can have that continuity and the communication is there," head coach Chuck Pagano said on Sunday.  That's the reason why the Colts have had the same five players working with the first team unit through two days of training camp - they're looking for that constancy.

At left tackle is Anthony Castonzo, who has been terrific during his time with the Colts, appearing in 56 consecutive games.  "It's great," Pagano said Monday of having Castonzo at left tackle.  "He's been the one guy, like you said, that's been there the whole time, day-in and day-out.  He's a guy that when you lay your head on the pillow at night, you know that from a consistency standpoint, availability standpoint, trust, work ethic, smarts, competes, all that stuff.  He's been the one guy that's been the one constant, like you said.  It's really his room now.  He's the leader of them and he did a great job in the offseason.  He's a tireless worker.  Obviously having a guy sitting there protecting the blindside of the quarterback, we feel really good and fortunate that we have ‘AC' there."

Then at left guard there is a competition, as Jack Mewhort has moved to right tackle.  Lance Louis has taken all of the reps with the first team in training camp so far, but the Colts are still giving Hugh Thornton a chance to compete for the job.  "I think he is in a good spot right now," Pagano said of Thornton.  "Not going to make any excuses for anybody, but he has battled some injury stuff.  So right now mentally and physically he is in a great place and now he just needs to be consistent, just like anybody else, and go out there and compete at a high level, be productive, do all the things.  He is a very, very talented guy, as we all know.  If you are going to draw up an offensive guard in the National Football League, Hugh is how they are going to look, from a physical stand point, athletic stand point.  He has got all the tools that we are looking for to be successful at that position.  Now it's just a matter of applying everything and being consistent."

If consistency is something the Colts want to see more of from Thornton, it's surely something they want to see more of from their center position as well.  Khaled Holmes is working with the first team and seems to be the favorite, but again, Jonotthan Harrison will be a part of the competition.  "Just like any other position, they are out there grinding away," Pagano said of that competition.  "Khaled is working with the first unit right now, that's no mystery.  Jon is working with the second unit.  You always have to have contingency plans, so we have some other guys taking some snaps.  We're trying to develop everybody on this football team.  We have a 90-man roster right now, so we have to develop everybody.  We're taking time out to double up, if you will, and get the young guys as many reps and more reps as we can.  There are guys like David Arkin that move in there and you have a rookie in there at times doing it.  But, basically, Khaled has been taking the first team snaps right now.  Jon is taking the second team snaps.  We'll work Jon in some with the first team unit.  He'll get some meaningful snaps with the first group.  It's day one, so we're going to evaluate it on a daily basis and try to get them prepared and ready to go for that first preseason game and then see where we are at."

At right guard is Todd Herremans, the veteran lineman who spent the first ten years of his career with the Philadelphia Eagles.  He's firmly entrenched as the starter at the spot and there's little competition there, as the other guard talent is being used in the left guard position.

Then finally, at right tackle is Jack Mewhort, who is moving to the position after spending his rookie season at left guard, where he played well.  But with the release of Gosder Cherilus, Mewhort is now the right tackle for the Colts.  "The good thing about Jack, he's played them all," Pagano said.  "So he's really a bright guy, a tough guy, a selfless guy who will do whatever we ask of him and do whatever he has to do to help this team win.  Like you said, he's got some snaps there.  Obviously, he's going to get a significant number of snaps in this training camp.  I really don't think there is any obstacle other than perfecting his craft day-in and day-out and becoming a better player each and every day."

There are still a couple of positions at which the competition is continuing, but so far in training camp the Colts have been working with the same five on the first team and hope to develop that continuity in training camp that, hopefully, will pay dividends when meaningful games roll around.  Because, as we're watching Andrew Luck and the plethora of options that he has to throw to, it may all come down to making sure he has enough time to do just that.