INDIANAPOLIS – WHALEN LEADS RECEIVERS– In just more than four quarters of action, rookie wide receiver Griff Whalen is making the most of his time on the field.
After a four-catch, 59-yard performance against the Steelers, Whalen followed that up with an eight-catch, 66-yard effort against the Redskins on Saturday afternoon.
Whalen sat out the first preseason game due to a foot injury but ever since being cleared, he has shown why he was such a reliable target for quarterback Andrew Luck at Stanford.
On Saturday, Whalen did not catch his first pass until 6:48 remaining in the third quarter. That 13-yard reception sparked a strong final quarter and a half for the rookie receiver.
Of his eight catches on the game, five of those came on the Colts' two fourth quarter scoring drives.
Head Coach Chuck Pagano said following the game that Whalen did come out of the Redskins game with an injury to the same foot he was nursing throughout the early portion of training camp.
"I don't know the extent of the injury, but it is the same foot, and we will look at that again, probably get another MRI on that to see what the extent of that injury is," Pagano said.
HARNISH RUSHED INTO DUTY – Quarterback Drew Stanton had some important business to handle Saturday afternoon in addition to being at FedExField.
Stanton's wife was called into labor Saturday expecting the family's first child, thus bumping quarterback Chandler Harnish into the backup role.
Harnish had a productive afternoon with the second-team offense, guiding a pair of scoring drives. For the game, Harnish was 12-of-19 for 147 yards.
"I thought I came out a little slow but I got better as the game went on," Harnish said. "Once I got going though, I got a couple of good series under my belt. I felt like we fought to the end."
After leading the offense on a 13-play drive that ended in a field goal, Harnish followed that up with the Colts' second-longest drive of the afternoon.
The rookie quarterback from Norwell, Ind., led an eight-play, 79-yard touchdown drive late in the fourth quarter.
"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."
Through three preseason games, Harnish is now 18-of-31 for 244 yards and a touchdown.
Harnish knows the preseason is his time to showcase what he can do, and he made sure to fulfill that on Saturday.
"The experience and just the games reps are huge for me in my development – understanding defenses, how to avoid rushes and when to throw the ball away and when to run it. It's invaluable right now," Harnish said.
"I'm praying for (quarterback) Drew (Stanton) and his family. They're going through the birth of his first child. It definitely was a great opportunity for me to show what I can do."
COLTS TURN FOCUS TO CUTS, PRESEASON FINALE –As the third preseason game usually represents the closet thing to a regular season game, the fourth outing will be used to finalize a roster from 75 to 53 players.
Colts coaches and management will be busy over the next two days trimming the roster down to 75 players (from 90) by Monday afternoon.
With a short week ahead for the players leading to the preseason finale against Cincinnati on Thursday, it will be about recovery the next few days.
"We are beat up right now. We lost a lot of guys before this game, and we have some guys who might be out some significant time," Pagano said. "We have a short turnaround, obviously, getting ready for the Bengals game, so we have to see what we have available and then make some decisions from there."
While those with established spots on the roster likely will see limited playing time on Thursday, much of the action from players against the Bengals will be those fighting to make the opening day roster.
Pagano knows the difficultly this week brings from trying to balance playing another game, along with seeing many faces coaches have grown close to having to pack their bags perhaps for good.
"It is the worst part of the business," Pagano said of the cuts. "We build relationships with these guys. We watch how much time they put in, their effort and hard work. They are all great people on the personal side of it. This is the hard part.
"What we always tell them is every time you step on that football field you are not only trying to make our team, you are trying to make another team. It's the resume that you put out there, so do the very best that you can. They understand. We understand. We have to make some tough decisions. That's just the NFL. That's part of the game."