One of the key preseason storylines for the Indianapolis Colts was the stability of the offensive line. Andrew Luck has taken a lot of hits over his first two seasons. An unsustainable number of hits. And almost immediately, that line has been exposed as the most fragile piece of a championship-caliber team.
Peyton Manning is best known for his connections to Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne, but would those relationships have been possible had there been twelve different men over the years playing the role of Jeff Saturday? We all know Manning has the ability to make average players look extraordinary, but part of the secret of Manning’s success has been routine and stability. Taking snaps from the same center for about a decade, an undrafted free agent who became a Pro Bowler, had an impact.
Khaled Holmes, a second year Colt got the start against the New York Jets on Thursday. Backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck described him as a “pleasant surprise” after a solid training camp. He played seven snaps against the Jets before being helped off the field. Trent Richardson ran the ball through a hole Holmes helped create, and the Jets’ Muhammad Wilkerson rolled on Holmes’ ankle. He bent backwards, fell, and slammed the turf in some mixture of pain and frustration. The Colts were expecting an MRI on Friday, but as of submitting this post, no results have been released.
In college at USC, Holmes never missed a game. Last year, he was injured in camp (his other ankle) and played 12 snaps. That’s 19 total career snaps so far for the guy everyone hoped could become Luck’s Saturday. On a side note, how does no one ever mention that Holmes is related by marriage to Troy Polamalu? I feel like this is critical information and it impacts my opinion on the matter.
Remember in the offseason how the Colts traded for former Dallas Cowboys center Phil Costa, who then abruptly retired in the offseason? And before that they said goodbye to Samson Satele, who was with Indy during Luck’s rookie year but had injury issues of his own and was otherwise regarded as a sub-par talent in many circles. When Holmes went out, an undrafted free agent named Jonotthan Harrison came in and sent one snap wild before Luck hit the bench for the rest of the game. Keeping in mind Jeff Saturday was once an undrafted player with almost zero expectations, Harrison (or Holmes, or Jack Mewhort for that matter) could work out fine. But right now the situation feels chaotic at best.
It’s possible that Andrew Luck might spend his entire career searching for a rapport with a reliable center, not unlike Diane Lane‘s quest for love in Under the Tuscan Sun, or Ted Lasso grappling with the concept of relegation. There have been whispers of bringing in former Miami Dolphins center Richie Incognito, the guy who was released in the midst of bullying accusations last season. The Colts have seemed keen on reclamation projects of late, but it would be a pretty serious plot twist if Incognito ended up auditioning for the part of “The One.” At the end of the day, a healthy Holmes still seems like Luck’s best shot at long-term happiness. But he now has that never coveted “if he stays healthy” moniker, fair or not.