INDIANAPOLIS –A textbook case for how severely a training camp injury can alter a rookie season was provided last year by C/G-Khaled Holmes.
Holmes had an ankle injury early in camp and though during the season the line started seven different alignments and had near-weekly cast changes, he played only in the last three games – a total of 12 offensive snaps.
With the departures of Samson Satele and Mike McGlynn and the sudden retirement of UFA signee Phil Costa, Holmes has a clear chance to contribute.
"I think it's a little bit more of an opportunity," said Holmes when asked if he felt pressure or a chance to play. "I'm really excited. It's been great to get back out here and work with guys. I'm ready to seize the opportunity."
Drafted in last year's fourth round, Ryan Grigson recently said Holmes' selection was to possibly nab the "center of the future."
"He never got a chance in camp really because of the ankle," said Grigson. "He's still a little bit of an unknown at the professional level."
Holmes redshirted at Southern Cal as a freshman before starting 37-of-40 games over his final three seasons.
"I pretty much missed all of training camp," said Holmes. "It really did set me back in terms of competition and preparing to be ready.
"I had redshirted before, so had gone through the experience of being on the scout team and helping in that way. I (watched) Samson and the other veterans. It didn't work out the way, individually at least, I was hoping for it to, but it was definitely not a wasted experience."
Holmes thrived at USC, opening 24 games at center and 13 at right guard. He is focused on Satele's former position and understood the team signing Costa.
"It seemed like something that had to be done just in terms of numbers. I was looking forward to competition," said Holmes, who added he will play wherever coaches deem best.
Satele (24), A.Q. Shipley (five) and McGlynn (three) have started in front of Andrew Luck, who will break in a new triggerman.
"I've been fortunate to have great relationships with all the guys that have played center," said Luck. "You have to be on the same page.
"That really is 'Point A' when you're going up to the line of scrimmage or game plans. (You) make sure the quarterback and center are on the same page."
Luck is a year ahead of Holmes, the same career dynamic Peyton Manning had with Jeff Saturday in 1999. Manning and Saturday went on to set the NFL record with 170 starts together.
Of the team's many achievements in that era, that relationship was one of the key reasons, and Luck now wants that same familiarity as he and the Colts seek a third straight playoff appearance.
"You want that comfort level. The last thing you want to do is think about the snap when you're under center," said Luck. "I feel very comfortable with Khaled. He's a great football player, a very smart, cerebral guy.
"I know when he did go in last year he produced well. It's going to be a great competition for that position, like at all positions. That's what's fun about the off-season. That's what guys in this locker room like. Iron sharpens iron."
Of Grigson and Pagano, Holmes says, "They've mentioned the expectations they have, but I think it's more important the expectations I have for myself.
"I know what kind of player I can be at this level. I'm ready to be that guy. I want to be the best center I can be, and I think I can play at a very high level."
Football pedigree runs in Holmes' family, even his extended one. His father, Mike, and brother, Alex, respectively starred at Michigan and USC, while his brother-in-law is Troy Polamalu.
Coming from that stock and with his own Trojan credentials, Holmes is ready to compete.
"I look at it as a great opportunity. I'm still going to compete no matter who it is. I need to play," said Holmes. "It's absolutely a challenge, one I welcome and look forward to.
"I was fortunate to get some limited action at the end of the year, very limited. It was worthwhile, and I took advantage of it. I think the exposure really helped me to get ready."