Indianapolis Colts: Chandler Harnish

INDIANAPOLIS -- There were some players missing on the practice field during the final day of the Indianapolis Colts' mandatory three-day minicamp.

Quarterback Andrew Luck wasn't taking snaps. Receiver T.Y. Hilton wasn't catching passes. Running back Ahmad Bradshaw was walking around the facility in street clothes.

Colts coach Chuck Pagano rewarded the veteran players by allowing them to miss the final day of minicamp.

That means the Colts' rookie class got plenty of snaps and quarterback Chandler Harnish, who has spent his first two seasons on the practice squad, was the one throwing the ball around the field.

"Met with the guys and just felt like as a staff we've had such great participation, great work, made great strides," Pagano said. "Everybody got better. We got better on all three phases. Felt like we wanted to get the young guys some work so we let the vets go and kept first and second-year guys and give them another opportunity to get the work that they need and to come out here to get better."

Pagano, like most coaches do, ended the final minicamp practice early when kicker Cody Parkey nailed a field goal and was immediately mobbed by his teammates.

The Colts won't be back together as a team until they report for training camp at Anderson University (Ind.) on July 23.

"Pleased with the offseason program, pleased with the minicamp and the direction we're headed and the guys are excited to get away," Pagano said. "We talked about being smart, doing the right thing, making great choices and staying in the playbook, working at their craft day-in and day-out. So with that, we're happy where we're at."
Here's Part II of the Colts Mailbag.

 

Mailbag: Hakeem Nicks back up plan

April, 19, 2014
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INDIANAPOLIS -- I caught up with Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN's NFL draft expert, on Thursday to talk about the safeties in this year's draft.

The Indianapolis Colts will have their first pick at No. 59 in the second round. Coach Chuck Pagano said safety is a position they'll look to address.

Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Louisville's Calvin Pryor are the two best safeties and both should be taken in the first round.

Kiper said Jimmie Ward out of Northern Illinois, the same school Colts practice squad quarterback Chandler Harnish attended, and Terrence Brooks out of Florida State could be available when Indianapolis selects in the second round.

Ward had 89 tackles, six interceptions and a sack last season. Brooks had 48 tackles and two interceptions for the national champion Seminoles last season.

“You can make an argument (Ward) is the best cover safety in this draft,” Kiper said. “He’s coming off the (foot) injury, but had a very good career. He has great ball skills and real good hands for the interception. The intimidator isn’t necessarily needed anymore, the big hitters, you don’t need that (at safety). Ward is a decent tackler, but he doesn’t have tremendous size. The days of big intimidating safeties are about over.”

Former Philadelphia Eagles safety Kurt Coleman is scheduled to visit the Colts on Friday, as they continue to try to find a replacement for Antoine Bethea, who signed with San Francisco last month. Delano Howell, Sergio Brown and Corey Lynch are the in-house candidates for the Colts.
I’m sure you all have read, watched or heard about Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman's key play and postgame comments after they beat the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game to advance to the Super Bowl. You don’t have the Internet, a TV or radio if this is the first you’ve heard about Sherman’s antics.

He’s made Peyton Manning’s third Super Bowl appearance a footnote so far.

Several Indianapolis Colts took to Twitter to give their opinion on Sherman’s key play and postgame interview.

 

Two QBs who can produce regardless

January, 11, 2014
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The transition for one was more bumpy than smooth. His top receiver, his security blanket, the one who often found a way to get open no matter the situation, lay on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium slapping the ground almost three months ago.

The other has five Super Bowl appearances on his resume, but not even the future Hall of Famer could say things were easy right away without his go-to guy.

[+] EnlargeAndrew Luck
AP Photo/AJ MastAndrew Luck overcame security blanket Reggie Wayne's absence by placing a priority on jelling with the other Colts receivers.
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck overcame his early struggles of not having Reggie Wayne by working, and working some more, to develop continuity with his young receivers. New England quarterback Tom Brady's transition without tight end Rob Gronkowski started out shaky, too, but evened out as the season progressed.

Luck and Brady will be the marquee names in Saturday's AFC divisional playoff game, and they're the reason why the two teams have reached this point. They've proven they can get the most out of their unproven receivers.

"[It's been] a challenge, but also an opportunity for guys," Luck said. "[They've] made the most of it. [Coach Chuck Pagano] tells us every week, 'Everybody prepares like a starter.' You never know, the injuries, whatever it is, it's an unfortunate part of the game."

LaVon Brazill, Griff Whalen and Da'Rick Rogers aren't names people immediately bring up when talking about the Colts' receiving corp. Brazill was suspended the first four games of the season. Whalen and Rogers spent most of the season on the practice squad. But there was Rogers going up and outleaping a Kansas City Chiefs' defender to bring in a 46-yard pass from Luck in the wild-card playoff game last Saturday.

Brady had Gronkowski, one of the league's best tight ends, for all of seven games before a knee injury ended his season.

Enter Julian Edelman.

Who? Exactly.

The 5-foot-10 went from having a career-high 21 receptions in 2012 to hauling in 105 passes -- good enough for fourth in the league -- for 1,056 yards this season.

"Obviously, [the Patriots] got a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer in Tom Brady that is under center running that whole thing," Pagano said. "We've got guys that are athletic and guys that can make plays. They've got guys that are athletic and can make plays. They've done a good job of bringing guys in and plugging them in. That system has been in place. They make adjustments here and there. But he's done a great job with adjusting to life without Gronk, life without some of the other guys. It's going to be a huge challenge."

[+] EnlargeTom Brady
David Butler II/USA TODAY SportsWith Tom Brady under center and Rob Gronkowski out for the season with an injured knee, Julian Edelman stepped up.
It seems like there's a revolving door when it comes to the Patriots and their players. There's not too many Waynes or Marvin Harrisons, players who have spent their entire career with the same team, there. The Patriots have no problem replacing a player and bringing in somebody else, which is part of the reason why Brady always seems to be able to find a way to make things work.

"For me, over the course of playing a few years we lost certain guys at certain points in the year," Brady said. "I think the main thing is just to try to figure out what you need to do as an offense to still be productive. You can lose a tight end or receiver or running back at any point in any game, and no one really feels sorry for you at that point.

"Losing any player hurts on offense or defense, but you've still got to have enough guys on your team and have enough flexibility within your game plan to adapt and make the changes necessary so you can still be productive."

Luck and Brady both had built-in excuses if they struggled all season. Their competitive nature wouldn't allow it, though. It pushed them more.

They handle things in different ways -- Luck isn't one to be seen on camera going off on the sidelines during a game -- but one of the things they have in common is that they're demanding and expect the best out of their teammates.

Extra time in the film room. Extra passes before and after practice to ensure their timing is right. The conversations they have as they walk down the hallway at the facility.

Luck had to do those things to make sure he had somebody else to go to when T.Y. Hilton was not an option.

Luck had a relationship with Whalen because they were teammates at Stanford. Brazill and Luck were teammates as rookies, but the starting quarterback didn't have much to work with when it came to Rogers because most of his passes were thrown by backups Matt Hasselbeck and Chandler Harnish while on the practice squad.

Trust is a necessity between quarterback and receiver. Luck showed he had it in Rogers when the rookie caught six passes for 107 yards and two touchdowns Dec. 8 against the Cincinnati Bengals.

"He does do a good job of staying on top of us," Rogers said. "We're like a family here and when something needs to be done, it's nothing personal. It's what we need to have done to win the game.

"We might be walking down the hall and he might grab you for a minute and talk about a play or talk about a certain concept. It's all day long, in the middle of practice, before practice, in meetings, in the film room."

RTC: Bringing some dog to the offense

September, 2, 2013
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Here's your Labor Day edition of Reading the Coverage:

-- Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star has a feature on running back Ahmad Bradshaw. Bradshaw, who ran into some trouble while in college, talks about his expectations for the season. Bradshaw missed the entire preseason while he continued to work his way back from offseason foot surgery.

-- Tom James of the Terre Haute Tribune says the Colts have some questions they need to get answered before their opener against Oakland on Sept. 8.

-- Conrad Brunner writes about tight end Justice Cunningham becoming seventh straight Mr. Irrelevant -- the last player selected in the draft -- to stick on a team's roster. The Colts drafted the last two Mr. Irrelevants -- Cunningham and quarterback Chandler Harnish.
INDIANAPOLIS -- An errant throw by Indianapolis Colts quarterback Chandler Harnish that struck the side of a Fox sideline reporter's face turned out to be serious, according to a report.

Harnish
Fox sideline reporter Pam Oliver suffered a concussion when Harnish, whom the Colts signed to their practice squad Sunday, overthrew his receiver and hit Oliver in the face during warm-ups for the Aug. 18 nationally televised game against the Giants, according to the New York Daily News.

"Now I want to get it out there. It was a painful, shocking moment," Oliver told the Daily News. "I really didn't know what happened."

Oliver told the newspaper that she went to the doctor and her CT scan came back clean, but she was diagnosed with a concussion.

"The sensitivity to light started and some nausea too," she told the Daily News. "My whole body was sore."

Oliver, who spent a lot of time in the dark at her home, said things started clearing up for her after about five days.

Harnish tweeted an apology to Oliver after the Aug. 18 game.

 

Colts claim tight end off waivers

September, 1, 2013
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INDIANAPOLIS – The Indianapolis Colts rounded out their practice squad and claimed a player off waivers Sunday.

The Colts claimed tight end Jack Doyle, an Indianapolis native and undrafted rookie out of Western Kentucky, off waivers from Tennessee. The team also released rookie running back Kerwynn Williams.

The Colts have injury concerns at tight end, as Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener, their top two players at the position, both missed at least half of the preseason. Allen didn’t play in the preseason because of a foot injury. Fleener first dealt with a concussion and now is working his way back from a sprained knee. The Colts hope Fleener and Allen will be ready for the season opener against Oakland on Sept. 8.

Keeping four running backs turned out to be too much for the Colts, which is why Williams was released. The rookie handled the majority of the kickoff-return duties in the preseason. He averaged 21.5 yards a return in the preseason, and he rushed for 92 yards in the finale at Cincinnati last week.

Barring any changes, David Reed, whom the Colts acquired from Baltimore on Aug. 21, likely will be the team’s kickoff returner. He led the league in 2010 with almost a 30-yard return average. Reed, however, suffered a concussion against Cincinnati last week.

The Colts signed linebacker Daniel Adongo, center Thomas Austin, quarterback Chandler Harnish, tight end Dominique Jones, linebacker Josh McNary and cornerback Sheldon Price to the practice squad.

Indianapolis Colts cut-down analysis

August, 31, 2013
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Most significant move: Defensive lineman Fili Moala didn’t play in the preseason because was he was still rehabbing a knee injury from late 2012, but that didn’t stop him from making the roster. Keeping Moala put an end to fellow defensive lineman Drake Nevis’ time with the Colts. Fullback Dominique Jones was cut, leaving the Colts with only one fullback on the roster, Stanley Havili.

A feel-good story: Linebacker Caesar Rayford kept hearing from NFL teams over the years that they liked what they saw out of him on video while he played in the Arena Football League. Rayford, however, never got an invite to a training camp from any of those teams. That changed this year when the Colts, led by general manager Ryan Grigson’s willingness to search anywhere for talent, invited Rayford to camp. Rayford didn’t disappoint, either. He had a team-high five sacks during the preseason. Rayford now has a spot on the 53-man roster. The 27-year-old rookie’s best bet to get on the field will likely be on special teams. He’ll take it after getting looked over for so many years while he played in the Canadian and Arena Football League.

What’s next: Grigson and his staff aren’t going to sit tight. They’ll continue to monitor which players -- especially offensive linemen and possibly fullback -- around the league were released, and don’t be surprised if the roster the Colts take into their season opener against Oakland on Sept. 8 is completely different than the current one. The Colts will likely add quarterback Chandler Harnish and linebacker Daniel Adongo to the practice squad if both players clear waivers. Adongo didn’t play in the preseason, but the Colts are intrigued by the former rugby player. Harnish was on the practice squad last season.

Colts cuts: LB: Daniel Adongo, Josh McNary, Monte Simmons, Shawn Loiseau. DB: Larry Asante, Marshay Green, Sheldon Price, Daxton Swanson. OL: Thomas Austin, Ben Ijalana, Bradley Sowell, Lee Ziemba, Emmett Cleary. DL: Lawrence Guy, Drake Nevis, Martin Tevaseu. QB: Chandler Harnish. FB: Robert Hughes. TE: Dominique Jones. WR: Jeremy Kelley, Jabin Sambrano, Lanear Sampson

Observation deck: Colts-Bengals

August, 29, 2013
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CINCINNATI -- No Andrew Luck. No Reggie Wayne. No Cory Redding. No Antoine Bethea or Robert Mathis, either.

In what’s the biggest yawner of the preseason because starting players rarely play, the preseason finale against the Cincinnati Bengals was all about borderline players trying to make one final impression on front office officials and the coaching staff before the 53-man roster has to be set by Saturday evening.

Here are other observations from the Indianapolis Colts’ 27-10 loss to the Bengals:
  • Third-string quarterback Chandler Harnish played for all but the first two series of the game. He didn’t do anything to help his case to play behind Luck and Matt Hasselbeck. But that’s not surprising, because Harnish struggled the entire preseason. Harnish started 2-of-6 but managed complete six of his next seven passes to finish 8-of-13 for 55 yards and a touchdown. He was also sacked twice. Harnish’s best bet is that he’ll be brought back to be the team’s practice-squad quarterback.
  • Rookie running back Kerwynn Williams took advantage of Ahmad Bradshaw not playing and Vick Ballard getting only a handful of snaps to be the lone bright spot on offense. The seventh-round pick rushed for 92 yards on 18 carries. Williams will likely be the fourth running back on the depth chart. He’ll also be the team’s primary kick returner. "He's got the heart of a lion," coach Chuck Pagano said. "He's produced really every week and made big plays. He's put enough out there so you have to give it some heavy consideration."
  • Safety Larry Asante followed up his 48-yard interception return for a touchdown against Cleveland last weekend by getting a sack and also recovering a fumble in the first half. Asante had a game-high 13 tackles. He had only four tackles total in the first three preseason games. Asante's play the past two games keeps him in the mix to make the roster as one of the safeties.
  • Receiver/kick returner David Reed, acquired from Baltimore on Aug. 21, left the game with a concussion.
  • Linebacker Caesar Rayford stood at his locker still in his pads mad at himself long after the game. The rookie seemed to be in a good position to make the team with a team-high five sacks heading into Thursday. But he wasn't pleased that he didn't close out the preseason the way he wanted to. He had only two tackles against the Bengals, with one of the tackles being in the open field. Rayford did enough early in the preseason to earn a roster spot.
  • Linebacker Daniel Adongo, the rugby player attempting to play football for the first time, didn’t play during the preseason because Pagano wasn’t comfortable putting him the game. That didn’t stop a press box announcer from saying Adongo had a special-teams tackle in the first half. A No. 46 got the tackle for the Colts, but it wasn’t Adongo. It was tight end Dominique Jones. Jones later caught a touchdown pass from Harnish.
What’s next: The Colts open the regular season against the Oakland Raiders at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Sept. 8.

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