Griff Whalen went from Indianapolis Colts practice squad to first-career touchdown reception in one day last week. Who knows what he might do with a week of first-team preparation?
A teammate of Colts quarterback Andrew Luck at Stanford, Whalen scored his first career touchdown in the Colts' win over Houston last Sunday. He also returned punts, including a 51-yarder.
Whalen will be part of the Colts' attack again this week when Indianapolis (9-5) plays the Kansas City Chiefs (11-3) at 1 p.m. today at Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City.
Here's a quick look at Whalen:
Ht: 5-11; Wt: 197; Age: 23; College: Stanford; How acquired by Colts: Signed as an undrafted free agent by the Colts, 2012
Fast facts: Has 13 catches for 147 yards and one touchdown in seven games this season. …Longest reception is 25 yards. …Led Stanford in receiving in 2011 and was a finalist for the Burlsworth Trophy given to the top college player who began his career as a walk-on. …A native of Sylvania, Ohio, he was a first team All-Toledo selection as a defensive back and second-team all-conference quarterback as a prep player.
Colts coach Chuck Pagano on Whalen's play vs. Houston: “It's a testament to his work ethic and the character he has. I talked about it to the team because Griff's been active, been cut, put back on the practice squad two or three times. We know the roster is fluid and things like that happen and you have a choice to make when that happens to you. Certainly Griff's not one of those guys that would go in the tank, so to speak. He's a grinder. He plays with a chip on his shoulder.”
Colts QB Andrew Luck on Whalen's play: “(Preparing like a starter) pays off in situations like this when maybe you're a little thin personnel-wise and guys step up and again, great job by Griff. Touchdown catch, a lot of big catches, punt return. He deserves it. He deserves all the good things.”
Whalen on preparing like a starter without knowing if he'll play: “I had a lot of good work in practice and that builds confidence, but it's a different story doing it on Sundays. It is hard sometimes because you want to be on the field contributing. It's kind of a tough thing mentally to keep yourself in it and try to stay focused.”
Whalen on having a rapport with Luck after playing together in college: “It comes up in random little spots. It definitely helps understanding body language. I don't know if it's a look but there are little things. Sometimes he'll revert to a signal we used in the past things like that, understanding what the defense is doing and what kind of look is going to be there for us.”
Whalen on his role moving forward: “It's totally up to the coaches. Hopefully, it'll be a bigger one now. They know I'm willing to do whatever I can to help the team.”
Pagano on continuing to use Whalen as a punt returner: “We'll just look at it and see who's available. He did a nice job, 22-yard average. He had the 51-yarder and then I don't know how many he got on the one after the safety, but he did a nice job. He's a heady player and he's smart and he's reliable. You know he's going to catch it, he's not going to turn the thing over and he'll take care of that football that way.”