Khaled Holmes relishes the chance to start at center for the Colts


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ANDERSON – This is what he was supposed to do–bring stability to a position which had some turnover since Jeff Saturday retired.

Now after a rookie year which saw little playing, Khaled Holmes is now getting his chance to literally be front and center for the Colts.

“I’ve said it a million times but the opportunity that I was granted, very few people get chances like that,” said Holmes of the chance to be the Colts’ starting center for the 2014 season.

This came for certain after free agent acquisition Phil Costa from the Cowboys decided to retire suddenly after signing with the Colts early in the winter. That meant Holmes–a fourth-round pick in 2013–would get the immediate chance to be at the center of the Colts’ line.

“I’ve had a great offseason and prepared myself as much as I could for this camp,” said Holmes of preparing to take the starting role. “As a unit, we’re making the right calls and getting the right plays and we’re doing a good job.”

Oh, and they’re also really young as well.

With the injury to guard Donald Thomas, the Colts’ three interior offensive lineman will consist of first- or second-year players. Guard Hugh Thornton started a majority of last season and joins Holmes along with rookie Jack Mewhort, who on the unofficial Colts’ depth chart was listed as the starting guard.

It’s a young group that could cause concern among fans who were looking for better protection for franchise quarterback Andrew Luck in 2014. But Holmes believes the veterans around the three lineman will help them catch up quickly.

“We’re fortunate. We’re young, but we have a lot of intelligent guys. We’ve got guys that have played a lot of football like Gosder (Cherilus) and Anthony Castonzo and even Donald (Thomas), before he went down,” said Holmes. “We have that veteran leadership, that experience on the line, but we also have younger guys that take a great approach to learning the game and getting better every day.”

Holmes had a year to do that watching as injuries limited him to just three games all season long. Samson Satele and Mike McGlynn rotated at center for the 2013 season but the position opened up after neither was retained this winter.

For Holmes, the key is to get the communication down between the five on the line so that everyone can be on the same page come the Sept. 7 opener at Denver.

“Offensive line is a unique position, where it’s the only one on the field where five guys have to do the right thing every play, or the whole play’s not going to work,” said Holmes. “There’s no other position like that really in sports or football in particular. It’s a unique group and the chemistry has to be right.”

Chuck Pagano believes this group of lineman, despite youth on the interior, can accomplish that if their communication is on track.

“When you start facing the type of schemes and pressures that people are dialing up these days, the exotic pressures, if you will, from a communication standpoint, if they’re all on the same page and singing out of the same hymnal, your chances of keeping our quarterback clean and keeping him upright and getting on the right guy are obviously a lot better,” said Pagano. “The task at hand is difficult, the physical part of it, but the mental part is just as equally difficult.”

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