Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne hasn’t forgotten where ESPN, and many other media companies that follow the National Football League, had Indianapolis at the beginning of the 2012 training camp.
“Starting off, like I’ve been saying, we were power-ranked 32nd,” said Wayne Friday afternoon.
“That has been pretty satisfying. Not many people had us winning much, they felt like we were rebuilding and rightfully so. But the way we have been going about it has been great. It could have been easy for us just to hang our heads down low with everything that has been going on with Coach Pagano. We kind of had an excuse, especially being young or whatever the case. Everybody has continued to fight, or to do whatever they had to do, to prevail. Seeing it being done by so many young guys, it has been special. They have been keeping me young, keeping me laughing, and it has been a special year. Hopefully like I’ve been saying, we can continue to write this movie.”
From the bottom during training camp to one of the last twelve standing, Wayne and the Indianapolis Colts (11-5) enter Sunday’s postseason game with the Baltimore Ravens (10-6) as underdogs once again, giving up seven-points to the Ravens. The twelfth-year veteran, who will be playing in his tenth postseason with the Colts, couldn’t have hoped to be in a better situation when he resigned with the team during the off-season.
“I wouldn’t have wanted it no other way,” said Wayne. “When you sign your name on the dotted line, this is what you envision. You want to go on and get as many goals as you can possibly get. Making the playoffs is definitely one of them. This is alright, I’m on schedule.”
After a down year in 2011 thanks to lack of quarterbacks to throw him the ball, Wayne finished the 2012 season with 1,355 yards (the seventh time he’s reached 1,000-plus yards) and 106 receptions (the fourth-time he’s caught 100-plus passes) to reach the Pro Bowl for the sixth-time of his career. The star wide receiver has been an influential force both on and off the field though, and with a team that has so many young rookies on the offensive end, Head Coach Chuck Pagano isn’t so sure the team would be at where it is today without him.
“I think obviously, being the player that he is, the leader that he is, a pillar in this organization for such a long time, how he is in the community all that stuff, if you ask everybody in the locker room they’d tell you to a man, no. I would say Reggie, Robert (Mathis), having Dwight (Freeney), all those guys have been such great leaders for us that with such a young football team I don’t know if we’d be where we are today without them.”
When it comes to playing on Sunday against the Ravens in his very first playoff game, Wayne had some pretty important advice for rookie quarterback Andrew Luck.
“First and foremost, stay away from Ed Reed,” said a laughing Wayne.
“He’s definitely a ball hawk. But at the same time, a lot of these guys are so young to the point where they really don’t know the history. A lot of guys didn’t know anything about the Mayflower leaving in the middle of the night and all that stuff. We kind of hipped them up to game on all that, kind of told them what to expect when we get there. Hopefully it won’t be such a big culture shock when they first get there. I told the receivers, ‘Trust me, no one out there in purple is going to be your friend. Just be prepared for whatever, prepare to hear whatever, and just have tunnel vision out. Go out there and play ball like you’ve been playing.’ I think everybody has prepped for this game. I think they’re ready for the Ravens. It’s going to be a tough game and that’s what the playoffs are all about.”
There is also one small tidbit Wayne made to remind all the rookies, and teammates competing in their first playoffs, about.
“It’s kind of funny, man. You just see guys’ eyes light up whenever you say something they didn’t know anything about. We were talking to some of them and talking about the playoffs and what happens in the playoffs and we tell them, ‘The more you play in the playoffs, you get more checks.’ You see guys’ eyes light up almost like saying , ‘What? More money?’ If you tell them that there’s more incentive to the deeper you go in the playoffs, guys are excited. They understand where we are at. I don’t think it’ll be too big for them”