INDIANAPOLIS – A year ago, Chandler Harnish was one of three quarterbacks on the Colts' roster hoping to make the 53-man cut for the regular-season opener.
He did, joining rookie Andrew Luck and veteran Drew Stanton. Tonight, he faces the same situation two hours southeast of Indianapolis that he did a year ago, trying to make the grade again.
Harnish spent the first five games in 2012 as the backup to Luck, and he will find playing time tonight along with veteran Matt Hasselbeck in Cincinnati as he tries to extend his professional career.
"I feel like a new person," said Harnish. "I feel very confident going into this week. More than anything, I'm excited."
Harnish, an Indiana native, came to the Colts as an accomplished collegian. He threw for nearly 9,000 yards and 68 touchdowns at Northern Illinois, and a year on this level (he took no snaps in five games on the active roster in 2012) has provided seasoning and perspective.
"With time comes wisdom," said Harnish. "That experience is invaluable. Just being around the organization with my coaches and teammates, I just feel a whole lot more comfortable. (I'm) just a confident player.
"A year has gone by. My expectations have (been) raised for myself and the team. I just try to go out there and prove my stuff and be a leader for all."
There are a number of players like Harnish who are hoping to put together a body of work that merits a roster spot. They hope a tight time becomes the right time.
"Every opportunity in this league, every opportunity, every play is a blessing," said linebacker Caesar Rayford, a free agent and former player in two other professional leagues. "There's a lot of guys that would love to be in this situation. I'm playing as every play is my last. I'm grateful for every opportunity, every game, no matter what it is."
Chuck Pagano has said the organization has created competition at every position that means that "some really good football players" will be let go as the Colts conform to the league-mandated roster size.
"We're still evaluating a bunch of guys, everybody understands and knows that," said Pagano. "(There's) still a lot at stake for a lot of guys from an evaluation standpoint. It's going to be tough."
Going through this situation for the second time in 52 weeks has given Harnish experience on which to draw, yet this time is not any easier.
"It's never an easy situation," said Harnish. "At the end of the day, you can't worry about things you can't control. Just go out and play hard, put yourself in the position to win the game.
"Do everything you have to do as far as preparation goes, then execute the game plan. You let the chips fall where they may."
All Harnish can do is prepare as he always has, whether it was at Ossian's Norwell High School, at NIU or with the Colts.
"Nothing changes. You just continue to prepare like every other week," said Harnish. "You study all the situations and practice your butt off and bring it every, single day. When the game comes around, you're ready to play, no matter how much time you get.
"I understand it's an unbelievable privilege to play to play this game. Whatever happens, I know there's a plan. I'm just excited to attack it, whatever that venture may be."