ANDERSON – Chandler Harnish entered Indianapolis Colts training camp expecting to do a lot of standing around during practice. He's thrilled that's not the case.
Harnish spends the bulk of practice throwing, both in team situations and individual drills, logging dozens and dozens of passes per practice. He's the third-string quarterback behind Andrew Luck and Drew Stanton, but the Norwell High School product says he's learning every day.
“I'm getting a ton of reps, and that was something I didn't foresee,” Harnish said Tuesday before the team's first full-contact practice at Anderson University. “From what I'd heard in the past, No. 3 quarterbacks typically don't get a lot of reps. I was not necessarily discouraged, but I prepared for that. To see the number of reps I've gotten the first two days, I'm extremely excited.
“These are gold right now,” he said. “This is my Super Bowl, being out there. It's the most important thing in my life. You don't get a whole lot of opportunities in this league. It's a cutthroat business and you need to make the most of your opportunity when you get them.”
Harnish, drafted with the 253rd and last pick in the draft, said he has tried to be as much of a student of the game as he possibly can with the Colts. He's shooting for the eventual 53-man roster. The Colts might decide to keep three quarterbacks on the active roster, or they could look to put Harnish on the practice squad.
In the Colts' first training camp practice in full pads, Harnish ran about 15 plays in the 11-on-11 drills. He completed the day's longest deep pass, about 40 or 45 yards, to wide receiver Kris Adams.
Colts quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen said he has been pleased with Harnish's performance during the offseason and expects him to get some work during preseason games.
“He's improving,” Christensen said Saturday. “He works. He's a guy who's going to be fun to see in pads, how far he's come. He's a ways away, but he's an exciting young prospect. It's hard to get an evaluation on a 'three' (third quarterback), especially with our situation where we have to give the one and two so many reps.”
Harnish spends much of practice alongside Christensen, especially when Luck and Stanton are running the first- and second-team offenses.
“He's just another mentor I can lean on,” Harnish said. “I'm constantly talking to him in practice. What play's up next? What could we do differently? Why did the quarterback do that? Why do we have this type of blocking scheme? He knows everything about the offense. I'm still just cracking the surface.”
Harnish might be thrown into the fire late in preseason games, Christensen said, even if his repetitions decrease as Luck handles the bulk of the load as the games draw nearer.
“Those fourth quarters of the preseason games you learn a lot about a guy,” Christensen said. “They kind of have to do it on their own. It's a little 'harem scarem' in there in the fourth quarter of preseason games. But a lot of times, you find out: Does he have a knack for winning, does he have a knack for driving the football, does he have a knack for being able to pull things together when maybe they haven't been coached as well?
“It's kind of (like) a relief pitcher. That's part of the thing. You want a 'three' who can come and throw strikes off the bench without having as many reps.”