Chandler Harnish will try to remain calm this week, even as his work with the Indianapolis Colts moves toward a critical deadline.
Roster cuts are in progress, with the Colts required to trim the team to its regular-season number of 53 players on Friday.
Harnish, a former Norwell High School standout, and other backups enter the week trying to make one final positive impression with their potential jobs on the line.
“You can't afford to put extra pressure on yourself,” Harnish said. “It's crunch week for the twos and threes to make their final resumes stick. But I'm not going to do anything different. I'm just going to stay with what I've been doing.
“Everyday, I've always thought to myself, 'This is my Super Bowl,' whether it's practice or a walk-through or whatever it is. I can't afford to make critical errors. I have to be trustworthy, reliable, a good team player. It's definitely a good thing that I've had that mindset.”
Harnish played his most extensive time in the preseason in the Colts' 30-17 loss to the Washington Redskins on Saturday in Washington. He struggled, being sacked for a safety, but finished strong with 12 of 19 passing for 147 yards.
Colts coach Chuck Pagano seemed pleased in his postgame comments.
“It was hard work, but Chandler was able to really get the offense going and put together a scoring drive,” Pagano said. “This served as a great learning experience for him.”
Nevertheless, third-string quarterbacks, even well-publicized ones like “Mr. Irrelevant” Harnish, face an anxious week waiting to see how things shake out.
His goal is to avoid flinching now.
“With the cuts looming and it being really kind of unpredictable with what's going happen, you just don't think about it,” Harnish said Sunday. “You have to stick with your routine and be as focused as possible, go out and have fun and play your game.”
The Colts end the preseason with a home game against the Cincinnati Bengals at 7 p.m. Thursday in Lucas Oil Stadium.
Harnish's extra playing time at Washington – he took over after Andrew Luck played one third-quarter series – came as a result of second-string quarterback Drew Stanton leaving the team temporarily to be with his wife in childbirth.
Harnish's first series ended with a sack for a safety. He didn't have much time, but took full blame on his own shoulders.
“My field awareness could have been better,” Harnish said. “I should have been more urgent. It's not the lineman's fault. I took too deep of a drop and put my right tackle in a bad position.”
Harnish later found his rhythm, directing a 13-play, 64-yard drive for a field goal and an eight-play, 79-yard drive, capped by a Darren Evans running touchdown.
“Being a backup, third-string type of quarterback, I can't afford to come in and have a couple bad series,” Harnish said. “Unfortunately, that's what I did. I have to get in the flow of the game right away. I have to work on that, always being ready to go and warmed up. …I was fortunate to have the whole second half to get in rhythm and I eventually did.”