INDIANAPOLIS – Last year, Griff Whalen was signed as an undrafted free agent just days after watching two Stanford teammates be taken by the Colts in the opening rounds of the selection process.
The 5-11, 185-pound receiver worked through the first three weeks of training camp with Andrew Luck and Coby Fleener trying to make the team, but he suffered a foot injury in the second preseason game at Pittsburgh.
Placed on injured reserve, Whalen was a spectator as the Colts went to the playoffs after an 11-5 regular season.
Now, he is trying to earn a spot with Indianapolis in 2013. One benefit is the offense very much is like the one he played in at Stanford.
"I feel like I'm coming along," said Whalen. "It's nice having the offense already in my memory. It helps me just be able to go out and play more naturally, play faster. It's going well so far."
Football has been a successful uphill climb for Whalen after being a top high school player at Southview High School in Sylvania, Ohio.
He made the Stanford team as a walk-on and was one of eight true freshmen to play in 2008. In 2011, he topped the team with 749 reception yards and had four touchdowns. For his collegiate career, Whalen had 1,058 reception yards and five touchdowns.
Luck is but one person with the Colts who has seen what Whalen can do.
"Griff's been great. I've obviously played with Griff for a long time," said Luck. "He doesn't really surprise me anymore with the things he does. He's done a phenomenal job so far."
Whalen has been active in spring and OTA work, and he is doing all he can to extend his career past Palo Alto.
"I need to do everything," said Whalen. "I need to get the reps back that I missed last year. I'm taking as many as I can.
"I'm getting back into the flow of things. I feel good where I am so far."
Charlie Williams worked with Whalen last year as his position coach and sees a player with skills.
"Griff can play multiple positions. He's so smart, and he can learn quickly," said Williams. "It's an offense he's been in for quite some time. It makes it a whole lot easier for him. I always know Griff is going to be in the right spot.
"I think he's more than a camp guy, but we'll have to wait and see. He runs good routes, and he's going to catch the ball. The thing he's going to have to work on is when defenders try to press him. He may have problems getting off the line of scrimmage. Right now, I like everything Griff does for us."
After a year of inactivity, getting in the flow has been good for Whalen.
"Absolutely, I've been chomping at the bit to get back out there," said Whalen. "It feels really good. I'm excited to get back out there. It was a long break for me, so I'm just getting my feel back.
"I learned a lot just from watching and taking mental reps. It was my first NFL experience, and I also learned I can compete in the league, too. I think I can do what I need to in order to contribute. I'm getting back into the flow of things."