Colts centers stick together amid competition

Khaled Holmes and Jonotthan Harrison want the same starting job. That doesn't mean competitive teammates can't be good friends.

They want to hike the football to Andrew Luck. That’s how Indianapolis Colts centers Khaled Holmes and Jonotthan Harrison have become close friends.

They lived and worked out together in the offseason in Arizona. They don’t hesitate to help each other when analyzing how they play. And perhaps most importantly for the Colts, Holmes and Harrison push each other to be their best.

Their backgrounds are dissimilar. Holmes studied Greek mythology while at Southern California. Harrison went to college at Florida and prefers anthropology and scientific theories on life.

Yeah, one guy is from the Golden State, the other from the Sunshine State. That’s close enough.

Harrison, 24, comes across more expressive. Holmes, 25, tends to be understated although Harrison says of his teammate, “He can be very, very expressive. He’s just trying to be professional in interviews.”

But they’ve definitely forged a brotherly bond when it comes to football.

“We get along really well,” Harrison said after Thursday practice. “There’s a mutual understanding that there’s competition and that there’s no hard feelings. We just really push each other more and more every day, whether it’s in the weight room or on the field.

“There’s no real sabotaging each other. Like if there’s a question, we will answer honestly. We will help each other out. If we see something technical on the field, like, ‘Oh, maybe you should pull that right foot back more,’ we will point it out to each other, which I’m sure isn’t too, too common in the NFL, I haven’t been across many teams, but I’m real fortunate to have him.”

Holmes has started the first two preseason games entering Saturday night’s visit to St. Louis.

“We’re very, very good friends, for sure,” Holmes said. “We trained together in the offseason, lived together in the offseason actually out in Arizona. He’s a great guy. I love him.”

Holmes agrees with Harrison’s assessment that it’s probably not commonplace in the NFL for guys going after the same job to become buddies.

“That’s definitely true,” Holmes said. “But it speaks to the kind of guys we have in the O-line room, including Jon. We definitely get along.”

Both players are similar in size and weight — Holmes is listed at 6-3 and 309 pounds while Harrison’s roster measurables are 6-4 and 308.

Holmes was a fourth-round draft choice in 2013 whereas Harrison didn’t hear his name called in the draft last year. Yet it was Harrison who the Colts turned to for much of last season as a starter in 10 games. The rookie had some memorable snap misadventures, but he was a decent blocker until, by his own admission, he hit the rookie wall late in December.

That’s when Holmes stepped in. Once seemingly the forgotten man with just six games played and no starts, he started the last two games of the regular season and all three playoff games.

Holmes spoke in training camp about how he gained confidence from the end of his second NFL season. Harrison spoke of trying to improve upon how he played and be more consistent.

Whatever the coaches decide, both insist it won’t impact their friendship. Last season was a reminder that starting jobs can change on a weekly basis.

About the only thing they didn’t agree upon was discussing Greek mythology. Holmes said he doesn’t talk about it.

“We haven’t gotten there yet,” Holmes said.

A smiling Harrison says the subject has come up, “A little bit, in bits and pieces. But he didn’t really unload it on me.” 

Then he says of Holmes, “He’s a very intelligent man.”

Phillip B. Wilson also can be found on Facebook and Google+.

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