INDIANAPOLIS – Over the course of a 16-game season, players fluctuate in and out of the lineup and in and out of the locker room.
The 53-man roster a team begins the year with never will have the same players on it for each week of the season.
When the Colts lost a pair of offensive tackles against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in week four, it was time for a new face to enter the Indianapolis locker room.
From his couch back into the NFL, offensive tackle Quinn Ojinnaka made his first career start in a Colts uniform against Kansas City last Sunday.
Ojinnaka was signed last Tuesday, came to the Colts complex for the first time on Wednesday and was informed Friday afternoon that he would be running out with the first unit on Sunday.
It was not clear what exactly Ojinnaka's role would be when he first signed, but the six-year NFL veteran knew to expect the unexpected.
"If you're not a starter in this league you are always preparing like you're going to be a starter, so the whole week, Wednesday and Thursday practice, I prepared as if I was going to start," Ojinnaka said.
Communicating the signals down the line had the potential to be a problem against the Chiefs, but right guard Mike Pollak said the blend of experience on the left side of the line made things easier for Ojinnaka.
"Last week was different because I kind of had to make sure Quinn knew what he was doing on certain plays when we checked (at the line of scrimmage), but the other guys we've been comfortable with in camp," Pollak said. "There is some chemistry there, so it hasn't been that big of an issue."
Down rookie tackles Anthony Castonzo and Ben Ijalana and without starting right guard Ryan Diem, Ojinnaka held his own at right tackle protecting quarterback Curtis Painter. The offensive line did not allow a sack against the Chiefs and Painter was only hurried once.
Lining up next to Ojinnaka was Pollak. A four-year veteran with the Colts, Pollak knows how extensive the offense is and complimented the work done by Ojinnaka.
"I thought he did a great job for coming in on a Tuesday," Pollak said. "Our offense is a very complicated one. We use lots of audibles and code words. For him to come in and pick it up right away is just a test of his work ethic during the week."
Head coach Jim Caldwell is a veteran in the NFL and understands the difficulty of not only playing well on Sundays but doing it in such a short week.
"He's picked up the system rather quickly," Caldwell said. "He was able to go in and for a guy brand new within the system, he was pretty effective."
Now in his second week of practice, Ojinnaka feels more comfortable with the playbook and has high expectations for not only himself but the entire offense heading into Sunday's game against Cincinnati.
"I'm getting more familiar with the terms and with the offense. This game I should do better than I did last game," Ojinnaka said. "We have weapons with Pierre (Garcon) and (Reggie) Wayne and the different backs. If all 11 guys on the field do their job right, I feel like we can score points with everybody."
In 2006, the Atlanta Falcons selected Ojinnaka in the fifth-round of the NFL Draft. He comes from the prestigious DeMatha Catholic High School in Seabrook, Maryland and played in 44 games at Syracuse University.
Ojinnaka started seven games at left tackle in 2007 for the Falcons and another five in 2009 at various positions along the line.
Last season, Ojinnaka played in eight games for the New England Patriots and spent the 2011 training camp with the St. Louis Rams.
A permanent home is something every NFL player strives for and Ojinnaka hopes Indianapolis is that place.
"I love the environment here. I love the team," Ojinnaka said. "Even though we aren't doing as good as we want to, it's still a great environment. I hope I'm here past this year."