INDIANAPOLIS – Reporters poured into the Colts complex Friday to see Andrew Luck's first practice as the new face of the franchise. They saw Chandler Harnish, too.
Harnish hopes that can become a familiar scene.
Luck handled the bulk of the work, as might be expected, but Norwell High School product Harnish got his fair share, throwing from both under center and in the shotgun formation.
These two quarterbacks arrive at the start of their careers together, from vastly different angles. Luck is the No. 1 pick, the man who would replace Peyton Manning. Harnish is the last pick, Mr. Irrelevant, the man who would like to turn his unexpected arrival on his favorite team into a steady gig.
Harnish, like everyone, knows the pecking order.
“(Luck) is a great guy, he knows a lot, he's very smart and you can tell he picks up the offense quickly,” Harnish said, his playbook in hand, standing at a locker he shares with cornerback Antonio Fenelus.
“He's a great leader and a very good football player. He's definitely the right fit for this team, but I'm going to compete with him and try to make him better every day.”
Harnish also knows that his old reliable personality trait – an unrelenting work ethic – will be the key to finding a spot on the new-era Colts. Luck and Harnish are joined by Trevor Vittatoe at the mini-camp, which runs through Sunday.
Multiple meetings and two-a-day practices are laying the groundwork to new offensive coordinator Bruce Arians' offense.
“It's definitely a whirlwind coming at you pretty fast,” Harnish said. “That's their philosophy, to get as much of the offense as they can in during this weekend. It'll be a great start to the summer, and we can learn and watch film and do things during the offseason to put us further ahead.”
Luck instantly earned coach Chuck Pagano's praise after his first walk-through style practice in the morning.
Pagano was asked how much nervousness he saw in Luck's first time on the field as a Colt.
“Zero,” Pagano said. “He's unflappable. He's mature beyond his years. You listen to some of those play calls Bruce gave him, you know why he's an architectural engineer (major).”
"I was a little nervous," Luck said. "But I didn't blow it up in my mind or make it a bigger deal than it is. It is practice, and it is the first one."
While Luck will get most of the repetitions this weekend, Harnish will have a chance to boost his stock with the team in the coming month.
Luck returns to Stanford to finish his final semester. He says he hopes to throw with Austin Collie and Reggie Wayne in makeshift sessions prior to his return to the Colts on June 8. But Luck's schedule also means other quarterbacks will have to handle the work in his absence during organized team activities.
“I'll be able to work with Drew Stanton and Trevor Vittatoe and just do my thing and learn the offense and meet with coach (Clyde) Christensen,” Harnish said. “I just want to perfect everything and learn as much as I can about the offense. Once you can do that, you can master the craft where you don't have to think about it.”
While Luck has known – more or less – that he was going to the Colts for several months, Harnish didn't know until the 253rd and last pick in the NFL Draft.
Harnish grew up following the Colts, his grandparents are season-ticket holders and he has attended “too many games to count.”
But Harnish has put aside the surreal aspect of being part of the Colts to dive into the playbook and try to land a roster spot. He was given No. 8 – he wore No. 12 in high school and during his record-setting Northern Illinois career – and said he's happy with it.
His focus, as it should be, is on work.
“It's good to be back out here doing football things and learning the playbook,” Harnish said. “I can't look too far ahead. (Luck) is a great player and they're building this thing around him, and I realize that.
“I'm just going to go out and compete and try to make him better. He can learn, I hope, some things from me, and I can become his friend and bounce ideas off him and make him a better player.”
Luck needs a right-hand man at quarterback. Harnish would love to fit into that picture.