Indianapolis Colts: Phil Costa

Camp preview: Indianapolis Colts

July, 17, 2014
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NFL Nation’s Mike Wells examines the three biggest issues facing the Indianapolis Colts heading into training camp.

Khaled Holmes: Colts general manager Ryan Grigson took a big gamble in the offseason by not heavily pursuing a veteran center. He signed Phil Costa, who was beaten out by a rookie in Dallas, only to have the veteran suddenly retire before ever playing a snap for the Colts. Even with Costa on the roster, the plan all along for the Colts was for Holmes to start. This is the same Khaled Holmes who managed to play a total of 12 snaps as a rookie, despite poor play by Samson Satele at the position last season. Grigson has constantly defended Holmes ever since, pointing out that the second-year player would be his starter. The goal is for Holmes to team with franchise quarterback Andrew Luck for years to come. Holmes needs to have good chemistry with Luck and control the line of the scrimmage, all while making sure the rest of the offensive linemen know the correct calls. That’s a lot to put on the shoulders of a player who is basically a rookie, especially when you think about the expectations the Colts have this season.

Safety: Similar to his decision at center, Grigson didn’t look far outside the organization to address a position of need. Veteran Antoine Bethea left Indianapolis to sign with San Francisco, and it appeared Delano Howell was the frontrunner to start alongside LaRon Landry at safety. Things seem to change in the middle of June, when the Colts signed veteran Mike Adams. Adams has started 73 games in his 10-year NFL career, but even though he says he feels like he’s 26 years old, he’s actually 33. Howell has started only four games in his career. And speaking of Landry, he didn’t exactly ease anybody’s mind about whether he’ll be able to rebound from a disappointing first season with the Colts. He didn’t attend any of the voluntary offseason workouts, then showed up at the mandatory minicamp with what was described as a soft-tissue injury. While the offseason workouts are voluntary, it would have helped Landry if he had at least attended a few of the sessions. Grigson and Colts coach Chuck Pagano didn’t criticize Landry for not showing up, but they did point out their preference of wishing he was in attendance. If anything it would have showed that Landry cared about working on chemistry with the rest of his defensive teammates. There are too many questions surrounding the safety position on a defense that was way too inconsistent last season.

Trent Richardson: The excuses are no longer available for Richardson in the Colts organization. The ready-made line of, “Richardson is still learning the offensive system,” is in the trash on the curb. Richardson, who the Colts acquired from Cleveland just days before Week 3 last season, has had an entire offseason to learn the playbook. Now he can use his natural instincts when he’s on the field, instead of constantly trying to remember the plays. The Colts clearly are trailing the Browns in the who-got-the-better-of-the-trade race. Cleveland turned the No. 26 pick into hotshot quarterback Johnny Manziel after using it to trade up to No. 22. The Colts? All Richardson gave them was 2.9 yards a carry and a demotion to the second unit last season. Richardson and the Colts have to hope this season is different. The pressure is on Richardson, because Grigson said earlier this year he would make the trade again if put in the same position. Richardson, the No. 3 overall pick in 2012, had offseason shoulder surgery and will head into training camp as the starter, with Ahmad Bradshaw ready to take some snaps from him if he struggles.

Colts offseason wrap-up

May, 23, 2014
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With free agency and the draft in the rearview mirror and training camp just a couple of months away, we assess the Indianapolis Colts' offseason moves.

[+] EnlargeVontae Davis
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesThe Colts moved quickly in free agency to retain talented CB Vontae Davis.
Best move: The Colts couldn't let cornerback Vontae Davis walk in free agency. Not after giving up a second-round pick for him in 2012. Not when they'll likely have to beat Tom Brady and/or Peyton Manning to reach the ultimate goal of representing the AFC in the Super Bowl. Davis and Greg Toler (when healthy) give the Colts a solid cornerback duo. The Colts wasted little time -- just a couple of hours into free agency -- in re-signing Davis to a four-year, $39 million deal.

Riskiest move: Center, center, center. The Colts' belief in second-year center Khaled Holmes kept them from heavily pursing another option on the free-agent market. Cleveland's Alex Mack was the best center on the market, but the Colts didn't want to pay the heavy price tag to try to get the transition-tagged player. Indianapolis signed Phil Costa only to have him leave the money behind and suddenly retire before ever playing a snap with his new team.

Most surprising move: Running back Ahmad Bradshaw's time with the Colts looked to be over after the team announced in October he was having season-ending neck surgery. Bradshaw wanted to continue his career, but it appeared it would have to be elsewhere because of Indianapolis' loaded backfield. But Bradshaw's desire to win and team with Vick Ballard and Trent Richardson in the backfield brought him back for at least another year.

Best move Part II: The Colts couldn't risk not addressing the receiver situation. Veteran Reggie Wayne is coming off ACL surgery, and you don't know what you're going to get out of young receivers Da'Rick Rogers, LaVon Brazill and Griff Whalen. Signing former New York Giants receiver Hakeem Nicks to a one-year deal is a win-win situation for the Colts and Nicks. Nicks is coming off a season in which he didn't catch a touchdown pass for the first time in his career, and he's looking to land a nice payday in 2015. Nicks is a proven receiver and gives the Colts another option to go with T.Y. Hilton if Wayne can't regain his previous form.
INDIANAPOLIS -- The NFL draft came and went without the Indianapolis Colts drafting a true center.

Surprised?

Holmes
You shouldn't be. Really, you shouldn't be.

Colts general manager Ryan Grigson and coach Chuck Pagano have talked up second-year center Khaled Holmes ever since they finally cut bait with Samson Satele in March.

Holmes is their starting center whether you like it or not.

"Khaled's our center," Grigson said over the weekend.

It should be noted that Thomas Austin is also a center on the roster and second-round pick Jack Mewhort and veteran Donald Thomas can play the position.

But it’s Holmes' job and the Colts are going sink or swim with him snapping the ball to quarterback Andrew Luck.

"We’re up front with everybody in the building and he still has to perform at a high level," Grigson said. "He's got to. Everybody has to. Like I said, to do what we want to do, everyone has to ascend to a championship level of play. That’s the goal."

Some tend to believe Holmes will likely be the starter only because Phil Costa decided to suddenly retire last month. That’s not true. Holmes had the inside track to be the starter even with Costa on the roster.

Grigson has said a number of times that they didn’t select Holmes in the fourth round of the 2013 draft to stand on the sidelines supporting his teammates.

Holmes did enough of that as a rookie, playing a total of just 12 snaps after an injury caused him to miss most of training camp.

"We're the ones that have studied," Grigson said. "We’re the ones that have watched all the film and not just 10 YouTube clips. Thirty-seventy starts at USC, it's like it's 'Whatsa Matta U.' It’s a pretty good program .… Rarely do you have a surefire frontline starter sitting there waiting in the wings for you."
INDIANAPOLIS – Offensive tackle? Or is he a guard? No, wait, he’s a center, right?

Don’t go trying to figure out what position Indianapolis Colts second round pick Jack Mewhort plays because the answer is unknown at the moment.

Mewhort, the No. 59 overall pick Friday, has played all those positions at some point between high school and at Ohio State, and the Colts like him because of his versatility along the line.

"We’ll get him in here and it’ll figure itself out, but we’ll find him a spot to start at then let him go to work," Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. "He’s a dang good football player. He’s big, he’s tough, he’s smart, he loves football, fits our culture, fits our environment. He’s a horseshoe guy.

"What I live, he’s got nasty, he’s tough and you’ve got to have that on the offensive line."

What about you, Jack, what position do you envision playing in the NFL?

"I’m the type of guy that you point me in the direction and I’ll figure it out and I’ll go play it," he said. "I’m not sure I’ve got a specific position pegged down right now, but I know and I’m confident that I can excel at different ones along the offensive line."

Guard may end up being the position Mewhort gets the majority of his snaps because the Colts are set at tackle with Anthony Castonzo and Gosder Cherilus.

The goal is to have flexibility along the offensive line for the Colts. Mewhort played guard and tackle during the Senior Bowl.

The Colts were one of two teams to lose at least three offensive linemen that played at least 300 snaps without signing a player during free agency, according to ESPN Stats & Info. Indianapolis signed center Phil Costa, but he surprised many by deciding to retire last month.

"It’s so tough in this league to have continuity on the offensive line because of so many injuries," Colts general manager Ryan Grigson said. "Position flex is what separates if you look at some of the teams that go deep in to the playoffs every year, they have tremendous position flex and versatility on their offensive line.

"To do that, you need smart guys that know how to play the game and Jack’s one of those guys."

The ultimate goal is to make sure Mewhort and the rest of the offensive linemen protect their franchise player, quarterback Andrew Luck, better. Luck has been sacked 73 times in two seasons. Sometimes you wonder how he manages to consistently pull himself off the ground after taking all those hits.

"I think that as long as he’s healthy and upright, and he’s got great protection, and he’s got enough weapons surrounding him, we’ll probably be here for a long time," Pagano said.

Holmes embraces spotlight and challenge

April, 25, 2014
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Khaled Holmes stood at his locker as the center of attention for more than one reason at the Indianapolis Colts facility Wednesday.

With the much-needed release of Samson Satele last month and the surprising retirement of Phil Costa earlier this week, Holmes has the inside track to be the Colts' starting center next season after having a "redshirt" rookie season.

"You've got to embrace every aspect of it," Holmes said while being surrounded by media. "I look forward to this kind of [attention]. I'll get used to it and grow in every way."

The Colts have been selling Holmes hard ever since Satele, last season's starter, was released.

Holmes only played 12 snaps as a rookie after missing most of training camp with an ankle injury. But the optimism is high because he started 37 games while at USC.

"I just look at it as a great opportunity," Holmes said. "It's absolutely a challenge. It's one I welcome and look forward to."

I don't think there's a word to describe what Holmes is getting himself in. He's expected to work hand-in-hand with quarterback Andrew Luck, the team's franchise player.

Luck, despite the lack of a lot of reps with Holmes, said he's "very comfortable" with him. He described Holmes as being a "great football player ... a smart, cerebral guy."

The offseason and training camp will be huge for the two so that they can develop continuity before the games really count and before the Denver Broncos' improved defense tries to get after Luck in Week 1.

"You forget how many reps you end up taking with the center just in practice and everything, and we obviously don't have that great of an amount of reps so it will be very important during this workout OTA season to get all those reps with Khaled and whoever else is going to be snapping the ball," Luck said.
INDIANAPOLIS -- There was a lot of panic from the Indianapolis Colts' fan base when the team announced that center Phil Costa was retiring Monday.

Is Costa retiring significant news?

Yes, because the Colts have Khaled Holmes and Thomas Austin as the only other centers currently on the roster. Costa retired because he wasn’t into it physically and mentally anymore.

But Costa's retirement was not as important from the standpoint that they lost their starting center. The Colts expect Holmes to be their starter at that position, barring a complete collapse by him.

Holmes could go from 12 snaps and being a healthy inactive 11 times last season to possibly being the person responsible for hiking the ball to quarterback Andrew Luck.

What?

Holmes was behind everybody after missing a significant amount of training camp last year with an ankle injury.

"This league, unfortunately, when a guy gets hurt in training camp he gets shelved," Colts general manager Ryan Grigson said last month at the NFL owners meetings. "There was a lot of optimism about him in minicamp, his level of intelligence. He's unique, he's 318 pounds. He's got guard versatility, even though I think he's a center, but he's got good arm length. At center, you have to have that. ... The guy knows how to play football."

The Colts, obviously, have high expectations for Holmes. That’s why they selected him in the fourth round of the 2013 draft. Holmes started 37 games while at USC.

I do believe it’s a risky move by Grigson because Holmes is raw. The importance of protecting Luck is paramount and the interior part of the Colts’ offensive line was so bad last season.

We’ll see if Grigson’s move to go with Holmes pays off.
INDIANAPOLIS -- Center Phil Costa wasn't even around long enough to be asked about dating Hulk Hogan's daughter let alone possibly hike the ball to quarterback Andrew Luck with the Indianapolis Colts.

Costa, in a surprising announcement, has decided to retire.

"Phil feels it's in his best interest to retire from the game," Colts general manager Ryan Grigson said in a statement released by the team. "We certainly understand and wish him nothing but the best."

The Colts signed Costa to a two-year, $2.7 million contract that included $450,000 guaranteed last month.

UPDATE: The Colts do not have to pay Costa any of the guaranteed money he was scheduled to make since he decided to retire.

The idea was for Costa to compete with Khaled Holmes for the starting center position, but I got the sense that the Colts were hoping Holmes would win the job. Costa, who started with the Dallas Cowboys in 2011, was beat out by rookie Travis Frederick last season.

Holmes only played 12 snaps and was a healthy inactive 11 times last season as a rookie.

Now the Colts are in serious of need of adding another center to the roster. This isn't a position they should be in with their franchise player Luck. The little bit of good news out of Costa telling the Colts he was retiring is that he did it now and not after training camp had already started. It gives Grigson some time to try to find another center to add to the roster.

Alex Mack?

Nope. The Cleveland Browns quickly matched the offer the Jacksonville Jaguars gave him.

Mike McGlynn?

McGlynn, who plays guard and center, was the best center on the Colts' roster last season, but the team had no interest in re-signing him. McGlynn is now with the Washington Redskins.

Samson Satele?

Next.

Kyle Cook, Mike Gibson and Steve Vallos are the three best centers still available on the free agent market, according to Bill Polian's free agent tracker.

Grigson said during the NFL owners' meetings last month that he wasn't overly impressed with the group of free agent centers.

That takes us to the draft. The Colts' first pick is not until No. 59 in the second round.

Here's a recap of the top 10 centers in the draft, according to ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr.:

1. Marcus Martin, USC
2. Weston Richburg, Colorado St.
3. Russell Bodine, North Carolina
4. Travis Swanson, Arkansas
5. Jonotthan Harrison, Florida
6. Gabe Ikard, Oklahoma
7. James Stone, Tennessee
8. Bryan Stork, Florida St.
9. Corey Linsley, Ohio St.
10. Tyler Larsen, Utah St.

Colts begin workouts with questions

April, 21, 2014
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INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indianapolis Colts start their offseason workouts Monday. The players will take part in strength/conditioning training and individual position drills for the next six weeks of workouts. The Colts will then move on to their organized team activities, which are full-squad but non-padded practices. Here are the dates for those: May 27-29, June 2-4 and June 9-12. The mandatory minicamp will be held June 16-19.

The Colts are giving the media access to the players on Wednesday.

Here are a couple of things that will likely be discussed:
  1. Health update: Receiver Reggie Wayne (knee) is still on course to be cleared for football activities on April 25. Tight end Dwayne Allen (hip) said he’s completely healthy from his injury. Running backs Vick Ballard (knee) and Ahmad Bradshaw (neck) and guard Donald Thomas (quad and bicep) also missed most of last season with injuries. Cornerback Greg Toler missed eight games total with a hamstring injury.
  2. Richardson factor: Running back Trent Richardson said he was going to split the offseason working out with his high school coach in Pensacola, Fla., and at the Colts facility. Richardson can no longer say he’s not comfortable with the system. No excuses, especially with Ballard and Bradshaw willing to take his snaps if they can remain healthy.
  3. Hiking the ball: Khaled Holmes and Phil Costa are the two leading candidates to be the starting center. Both have legitimate concerns. Holmes lacks experience, playing only 12 snaps as a rookie. Costa started every game in 2011 to being beat out by a rookie in Dallas last season.

A look at centers in the draft

April, 17, 2014
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INDIANAPOLIS – ESPN.com Dallas Cowboys reporter Calvin Watkins recently gave a little background information on new Indianapolis Colts center Phil Costa.

I reached out to ESPN NFL Insider Matt Williamson to get his perspective on the Colts’ situation with Costa and Khaled Holmes, the two players expected to come for the starting position.

“I would classify Costa as a low-end starter that is best off as a backup,” Williamson said.

Costa has a little bit of history, having started every game in 2011. The same can’t be said about Holmes. He’s the mystery player everybody is waiting to find out about after he only played 12 snaps last season.

Williamson also noted that he wouldn’t be surprised if the Colts drafted at that position next month.

Here are the top 10 centers in the draft, according to ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr.:

1. Marcus Martin, USC
2. Weston Richburg, Colorado St.
3. Russell Bodine, North Carolina
4. Travis Swanson, Arkansas
5. Jonotthan Harrison, Florida
6. Gabe Ikard, Oklahoma
7. James Stone, Tennessee
8. Bryan Stork, Florida St.
9. Corey Linsley, Ohio St.
10. Tyler Larsen, Utah St.

Kiper doesn't have any of those players being selected in the first round of his mock draft 4.0Insider. Martin is the first center selected, going to San Francisco at No. 61 in the second round.

I’d be surprised if the Colts used their second-round pick on a center because Holmes is headed into just his second season and there is a sense that they hope he’s their starter next season. There's a possibility that the Colts could draft a center in the later rounds.

A quick look at Phil Costa

April, 15, 2014
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INDIANAPOLIS -- New Indianapolis Colts center Phil Costa is somewhat a mystery. He started every game with Dallas in 2011, but his playing time started to reduce before he eventually lost his starting job in 2013. His role with the Colts is unknown. Costa will compete with Khaled Holmes for the starting position.

Is Costa a starter still or is he just a backup in the league.

I checked in with ESPN.com Cowboys reporter Calvin Watkins to get a little background on Costa.

Why did Costa lose his starting job to rookie Travis Frederick last season?

"He suffered a back injury in 2012 and never fully recovered. Ryan Cook took over the starting gig. Then last year the team wanted to upgrade the center position and selected Travis Frederick, a projected second rounder. Costa made the team and was healthy all year but didn't play. In the offseason, Costa was offered a pay cut and declined it. The team then released him."

Is Costa still a capable starter in the league?

"I think so. He's young enough to have a future in the league. Strong, stocky player with good lower body strength."

What type of guy is Costa inside the locker room and are there any interesting tidbits about him that fans should know?

"Costa is a quiet guy who gets along with his teammates. Costa went to Maryland and follows the Terps closely. He was engaged to Brooke Hogan and Hulk Hogan attended a game last year. The two broke up."
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INDIANAPOLIS – The Indianapolis Colts entered free agency last month with the fourth-most salary-cap space ($41 million). General manager Ryan Grigson was very open in saying that they weren’t going to be free spenders on the market.

He was right.

The Colts have been one of the least active teams in the NFL when it comes to signing players that were on other teams last season.

The fine folks at ESPN Stats & Information say the Colts are tied for the second fewest free-agent/trade additions with only four players being signed.

The Colts have signed receiver Hakeem Nicks, defensive lineman Arthur Jones, center Phil Costa and linebacker D’Qwell Jackson. The Colts still have about $13.4 million in salary-cap space available.

Here’s a breakdown of the teams that have made the fewest moves and most moves so far during the offseason:

 
INDIANAPOLIS -- The hope and fascination with center Alex Mack lingers even after Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson and coach Chuck Pagano both talked about Phil Costa and Khaled Holmes as the two players they plan to go with at center.

Perhaps a string of reported events late last week and over the weekend may put an end to any thoughts of Mack hiking the ball to Colts quarterback Andrew Luck next season.

Mack, who the Cleveland Browns used their transition tag on, met with AFC South foe Jacksonville last week. The Florida Times-Union reported that a contract that includes $22 million during the first three seasons could get Mack to Jacksonville.

There was another report that said the Browns would match the $22 million over three seasons.

It's understandable why some Colts fans want Mack as the team's starting center. He would immediately improve the interior part of the Colts offensive line, the weak link last season, but the front office didn't want to go that route because of the financial commitment it would take to get Mack since the Browns can match any offer made to him.

Brian de la Puente is no longer an option, either.

De la Puente signed with the Chicago Bears on Sunday to back up Roberto Garza.

I know some don't want to believe it, but Holmes or Costa will likely be the Colts starting center next season. Based off conversations I've had, it seems like Holmes, who only played 12 snaps as a rookie, has the inside track to be the starter over Costa, who lost his starting job with the Dallas Cowboys last season.
 
 

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