Every day, it keeps looking more and more likely that Khaled Holmes might not be ready for the season opener. Today, neither Holmes nor backup Jonotthan Harrison practiced, leaving newly signed A.Q. Shipley to take all of the first team reps.
"It helped obviously that A.Q. was here," head coach Chuck Pagano said after practice. "He's a very, very bright guy. Going through today, taking every snap with the first group out there, he was pretty much flawless. It's not easy, but we can help him on our end. Again, he's a bright guy, a lot of recall there."
"We talk all the time about the roster being fluid," Pagano said, "so any time you have an opportunity to bring back or acquire anybody for that matter that upgrades your roster. A.Q.'s a guy that has started and won games for us both at center and guard. We know he can play both. We'll see as far as the health and availability of Khaled (Holmes) is on Wednesday. Jon Harrison, we'll see where that is and then we'll make our decision."
Last week Pagano said that Holmes would hopefully practice Wednesday, and then today he didn't exactly give a huge endorsement for Harrison being ready either. Regardless of whether the two guys return to practice, there seems to be a very real chance that it will be Shipley starting on Sunday anyway.
Pagano was asked specifically about how much of an uphill battle Holmes faces with getting ready and then with the Colts playing in the altitude in Denver Sunday night. "Yeah, for anybody it's going to be tough, I don't care what position you play considering those circumstances," Pagano answered. "Anybody that's missed a considerable amount of time coming back, knocking the rust off, being in shape, all those type of things. It'd be difficult for anybody, but we'll just see how that plays out."
Again, that just doesn't speak resounding confidence that Holmes will be ready. It's important to note that the Colts won't be going away from Holmes once he truly is healthy. He'll get a chance to start, and he's still considered the starting center. And I think the Colts do have confidence in Jonotthan Harrison too, so he would likely normally fill in for Holmes if need be. But today, neither Holmes nor Harrison practiced and there's a very real chance that neither will be completely ready on Sunday. With A.Q. Shipley there, the Colts have a guy they feel comfortable turning to as the starter Sunday night, and I think it's looking likely that will end up happening.
Offensive Line Depth for Sunday?
Going along with the theme of offensive line, Pagano said regarding both Xavier Nixon and Joe Reitz probably being out this Sunday that, "that would be a pretty good assumption." In other words, neither Nixon nor Reitz will be available this Sunday night. Meaning that there's not much depth whatsoever for the line. So who is going to be the backup tackle, then? "All hands on deck," Pagano told the media. "It could be you." He did add, however, that Jack Mewhort and Hugh Thornton are both options at tackle too if need be. That would mean that if one of them shifted over to tackle (likely Mewhort), Lance Louis would step in at guard. The problem with this is that both Mewhort and Thornton are already starting on the offensive line, but they're also the best (and really only) depth at tackle right now too. In other words - let's just hope both Anthony Castonzo and Gosder Cherilus stay healthy, because if you think the line is bad now, just imagine it without one of them (hint: it'd be much worse).