FORT WAYNE – Chandler Harnish was surprised when he was cut by the Colts on Saturday but, now that a few days have passed, he’s looking at the bright side.
After two years of failing to crack the Colts’ lineup – he had spent most of his time on the Colts’ practice squad – maybe a team in need will give him the chance. Indianapolis hadn’t.
A lot of people have said to me, One door closes and another opens.’ Maybe this will end up being a blessing in disguise, said Harnish, the former Norwell and Northern Illinois quarterback.
Harnish, 26, was the final pick of the 2012 draft by the Colts. Though he began his rookie season on the active roster, he became mostly a practice-squad player behind Andrew Luck and Matt Hassellbeck.
After playing the entire game against the Cincinnati Bengals, who won the preseason finale 35-7, Harnish was waived, even though he had one more year of practice-squad eligibility. Against the Bengals, Harnish completed 13 of 24 passes for 102 yards, one touchdown and one interception, and he was sacked five times.
The Colts didn’t give him a lot of feedback on what he could have done to avoid the dismissal.
Nah, it’s just one of those I things. I just didn’t know, he said. I’ve never been in this situation. A lot of gray area was there, and that’s where you feel the surprise. But I know what I need to work on. I always had a good relationship with my quarterbacks coach (in Indianapolis), and it comes down to winning football games and making plays.
After waiving Harnish, the Colts signed to the practice squad quarterback Jeff Mathews, a rookie out of Cornell, who had been cut by the Atlanta Falcons.
It was definitely a surprise, Harnish said. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a surprise, but I’ve got to keep my mind fresh and stay in shape moving forward.
Harnish has yet to field any calls from other teams.
You just don’t know when an opportunity could arise, he said. My agent said it usually stays quiet for the first week or two. So I’ll play it day by day, and the big thing is to stay mentally fresh.
Harnish, a 6-foot-2, 220-pound native of Bluffton, played four years at Northern Illinois, where he threw for 8,944 yards with 68 touchdowns and 26 interceptions. He also ran for 2,983 yards and 24 touchdowns.
He was the Mid-American Conference’s Offensive Player of the Year in 2011.
His preseason totals this year were: 32-of-60 passing for 283 yards, two touchdowns, one interception and 12 sacks. He rushed seven times for 42 yards and lost one fumble.
There is a long list of experienced quarterbacks who were cut during training camp – including Trent Edwards, Josh Freeman, Caleb Hanie, Mike Kafka, Terrelle Pryor and Dennis Dixon.
Getting cut is uncharted territory for me, Harnish said. It’s been quiet to this point but hopefully that will change.