Khaled Holmes named Colts' starting center

Khaled Holmes began preseason as the Colts' starting center and will stay there after winning a competition with Jonotthan Harrison.

Khaled Holmes has beaten out Jonotthan Harrison as the Indianapolis Colts’ starting center.

Head coach Chuck Pagano named Holmes his starter Monday after the two players had alternated snaps with the first-team offense in the past two preseason games.

Holmes was the Colts’ starting center at the outset of training camp last year, but suffered a high ankle sprain in the preseason opener and lost his job. Harrison, an undrafted rookie, started 10 games last season before hitting the “rookie wall.”

That gave Holmes an opportunity to win the job back. He started the last two regular-season games and then all three playoff games.

Offensive line coach Joe Gilbert predicted during offseason training activities that the two players would have a spirited competition for the job in preseason.

But it appears as if Holmes never relinquished the job this time. He started each of the Colts’ three preseason games. In the last two, Harrison entered on the third series and then they alternated.

A fourth-round pick out of Southern California in 2013, Holmes has appeared in 11 games at center or guard in two seasons, including the playoffs.

Both players have become close friends while competing against each other. Holmes and Harrison lived and worked out together in the offseason in Arizona.

Harrison, 24, insisted last week that whatever the coaches’ decision, it wouldn’t affect his friendship with Holmes, 25.

Last season is a reminder of how quickly jobs can change. The Colts switched their starting offensive line combinations 11 times, including the use of three centers. A.Q. Shipley was claimed off waivers and started the first four games before Harrison was inserted for the next 10 and Holmes the last two before the playoffs.

Shipley wasn’t retained in the offseason and signed as a free agent with Arizona.

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