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Offensive Line Burning Questions Heading Into Training Camp

Intro: After back-to-back playoff appearances, the Colts have the foundation set for a deep playoff run. What’s in store at the offensive line position group heading into the 2014 training camp?


INDIANAPOLIS –Now we move into the trenches, where all eyes will be fixated on the three interior spots.

The weapons are present all over the Colts skill positions and, with improved line play in 2014, the offense has a chance to become one of the league's best.

Here's a look at the offensive line burning questions heading into training camp.

Is Khaled Holmes ready to become the center of the future?

All signs are pointing to the time is now for Khaled Holmes to become the Colts starting center.

Sure, Phil Costa retired and the Colts did not draft a center in 2014, but a lot of credit should go to Holmes for putting himself in a position where the staff feels more than comfortable to have him snapping to Andrew Luck this season.

With a reshaped body, Holmes enters his second NFL training camp healthy and with the physical stature that he was looking for heading into this offseason.

The next step for Holmes comes in showing the mental capacity to keep a Colts offensive line on the same page once the live bullets start flying.

Life in Anderson means the pads will be strapped on, which is a period of time that Holmes missed last season due to an early camp injury.

The backing of Holmes has come from every avenue this offseason and the time is clearly now for the Colts 2013 fourth-round pick to be that "captain" of the five-man offensive line unit.

STAT TO NOTE: Holmes competed in just 12 offensive snaps for the Colts last season. For example, Gosder Cherilus led the Colts offensive line with 1,068 offensive snaps in 2013.


How will the crowded guard positions play themselves out?**

Along with the safety spot next to LaRon Landry, both guard spots have some quality numbers that will be in the mix up in Anderson.

Here's a look at the four most likely candidates for first team reps.

-Lance Louis: An early offseason signing by the Colts, Louis is back from a 2012 ACL injury. Louis ran with the first team throughout much of the early part of the Colts offseason program. Both Ryan Grigson and Chuck Pagano have spoken highly of Louis and the former Chicago Bear has started 28 games in the NFL.

-Jack Mewhort: It says something about your depth when your second round draft pick doesn't necessarily have to come in and start from Day One. Having said that, Mewhort cracked the first unit late in the offseason program at the left guard spot. Versatility is something Mewhort prides himself on so even if he doesn't start in the opener, expect him to be a plug guy at a variety of spots.

-Donald Thomas: Thomas is the X-factor of the guard group as he's still coming off a pair of serious injuries. If healthy, Thomas should be in the starting lineup considering he was a key offseason coup back in 2013. Just like Reggie Wayne, it will be interesting to see how the Colts monitor Thomas during camp, due to playing such a physically demanding position, especially when the pads are put on.

-Hugh Thornton: The Colts third-round pick from 2013 was thrust into a starting role once Thomas went down last season. Thornton was the starting right guard throughout the Colts offseason program. Does that starting experience from 2013 give Thornton the nod over other starting guard candidates?

STAT TO NOTE: Thomas was expected to be a starter in 2013 but the injury bug bit him hard, on two occasions, in Week Two and his season ended after just 70 offensive snaps.


Are Anthony Castonzo and Gosder Cherilus taken for granted?**

So much talk is centered (no pun intended) on the interior of the Colts offensive line that we seem to forget just how durable, and solid, Anthony Castonzo and Gosder Cherilus were in 2013.

Castonzo played 1,065 offensive snaps (99.6 percent) and Cherilus logged 1,068 offensive snaps (99.9).

When Cherilus hit the free agent market in 2013, Castonzo might have put in a word or two on coaxing his good friend from Boston College to Indy.

It clearly worked and their value in 2013 should not be overlooked.

Offensive line coach Joe Gilbert certainly doesn't take those two for granted.

Gilbert told a great story earlier this offseason about the competitiveness of Castonzo and Cherilus.

"It was funny when we got up in one of the games, neither one of them wanted to come out," Gilbert says. "One of them had to come out because I'm being told to take one of them out.

"As a coach, that's what you really want. You want guys that want to be in there and don't want to give up their spot. To play 18 games and not miss a snap except when we were up is unheard of and, knock on wood, hopefully they can do the same thing next year."

STAT TO NOTE: Castonzo and Cherilus missed a total of five offensive snaps in 2013.

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