On Colts' center spot: Satele vs. Holmes

July, 9, 2013
7/09/13
3:56
PM ET
For as many good moves as Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson made in his first season in the post, the NFL executive of the year also had some bobbles.

[+] EnlargeSamson Satele
Mitch Stringer/USA TODAY SportsCan Samson Satele stay healthy long enough to hold on to his role as the Colts' starting center?
It’s fair to say Year 1 of center Samson Satele was one of them.

Satele got a three-year, $10.8 million contract with $4 million guaranteed and a $2.7 million base salary in 2013.

He started 11 games, missing action with knee and ankle injuries. A.Q. Shipley, who replaced Satele, was better when he played.

Pro Football Focus’ advanced grading stats put Satele 33rd among centers, with a minus-7.1 grade, minus-9 in pass blocking. Shipley was 15th with a 6.9.

The Colts dealt Shipley to Baltimore after the draft, when they selected Khaled Holmes out of USC in the fourth round.

Perhaps Satele makes a significant jump in his second season in Indianapolis, when the guys around him should be better and could include three newcomers. Perhaps he improves on a pre-snap head bob that surely helps tip off when a play is about to start.

If he doesn’t, Holmes could well beat out the veteran.

I had the chance to speak with Holmes recently, and he said Satele has been great to him.

“Samson’s a great player and I think we have a bunch of great players up front,” Holmes said. “My only goal is to keep my head down and keep working. I’m always going to compete in everything I do, so there is that factor. But I’m not looking forward to anything besides camp.

“From Day 1 he’s been a great leader and a great help to me in particular. He’s been playing the position for so long at such a high level, he’s really got a firm grasp on technique and the scheme. He’s been nothing but a great help for me.”

The Colts will have a new starting right tackle for certain in free-agent addition Gosder Cherilus. Another free agent, Donald Thomas, and a third-round draft pick, Hugh Thornton, could displace Joe Reitz and Mike McGlynn in battles for guard jobs.

If Holmes beats out Satele, left tackle Anthony Castonzo could be the lone starter from 2012 who stays in place on the starting job a year later.

Paul Kuharsky | email

ESPN Tennessee Titans reporter

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