Colts Training Camp Battles: Samson Satele vs. Khaled Holmes


May 10, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts guard Khaled Holmes (56) goes through drills during the Colts Rookie Minicamp at the Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance Football Center. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve been taking a long look at the Colts’ offensive line as of late, and one area where the team is going to look drastically different is on the offensive line.

Not only will the Colts have new starters at right tackle, left guard, and possibly right guard, but they could very well have a new starter at center just one year after signing journeyman Samson Satele to a three-year deal. Though Satele is scheduled to make just under $3 million in 2013, it’s not unlikely that he will be beaten in training camp by rookie Khaled Holmes out of USC.

When the Colts drafted Holmes, they felt like they had enough at the position to trade A.Q. Shipley, who started a few games for the Colts last year after Satele went down with an injury.

According to Pro Football Focus, Satele graded out as worse than the worst center in the league, coming in at 33rd. The guy they traded–A.Q. Shipley–graded out as the 15th best center in the league last year.

The problem for the Colts is that it could be really risky putting a rookie out there to snap the ball to Andrew Luck. If they are going to make that call, they need to make it soon. Chemistry between a center and quarterback is crucial, so Luck is going to need to be getting on the same page with whomever is going to be snapping him the ball sooner rather than later.

The rookie Holmes recently spoke with ESPN’s AFC South blogger Paul Kuharsky about the impending competition:

“Samson’s a great player and I think we have a bunch of great players up front,” Holmes said. “My only goal is to keep my head down and keep working. I’m always going to compete in everything I do, so there is that factor. But I’m not looking forward to anything besides camp.

“From Day 1 he’s been a great leader and a great help to me in particular. He’s been playing the position for so long at such a high level, he’s really got a firm grasp on technique and the scheme. He’s been nothing but a great help for me.”

I’ve been a big fan of Holmes’ since his USC days. He is a former academic All-American and All-Pac 12 performer who was once considered a potential top 64 prospect. He fell to the Colts in the fourth round, and they may have stolen a week one starter with the 121st overall pick.

Holmes was a three-year starter at USC, spending two seasons as the center for Matt Barkley and one season–his sophomore campaign–as a starting guard for the Trojans.

As Kuharsky points out, if Holmes takes over as the center over Satele, the Colts could have just one remaining starter from the 2012 season. Is that a good thing? Luck and the rest of the playmakers offensively certainly hope so.