Seconds before Colts veteran wide receiver Reggie Wayne talked to those around his locker room, the star asked for everybody to hold on just for one second.
“As you know, Southwest Airlines you have to check-in early or you’ll be waiting,” said Reggie Wayne with a broad smile across his face. Moments later, the six-time Pro Bowler let out a yelp. “Check that out, A1 baby,” yelled Wayne. “I need that emergency row!”
And though it has been a tough off-season for Wayne, who is coming off a season-ending ACL tear from the Colts 39-33 victory over the Denver Broncos on October 20th, everything now seems to be lining up perfectly for the future hall of famer. Wayne is confident that he is not only back on the road to recovery, and will be ready for the Colts training camp in Anderson, but as a whole the 35 year-old says his body hasn’t felt this good since perhaps 2002.
“I am, like you said, chomping at the bit to get out there,” said Wayne. “Like I told our receiver coach, I said, ‘I’m that Chevy that’s in the garage. As soon as you open the garage, I’m out. I’m gone.’ So I’m just waiting until they tell me I can go on and suit up and be a normal football player. Up until then, I’ll kind of help teach a little bit and do as much as I possibly can.”
Teaching and being a mentor to the younger players was Wayne’s role this week in the Colts mini-camp, which ended early on Friday afternoon. Though the veterans on the Colts roster were dismissed early before Friday’s practice even took place, Wayne stuck around to help out some of the fresh-faced Colts that were left on the practice field. Wayne talked about how he embellishes the role of teaching the young guys that call him “Mr. Wayne”, who often talk about how they used him in Madden video games growing up. But as to if the receiver feels like he can be productive in his fourteenth season once he is cleared, especially coming off such a severe injury, Wayne feels like he has the ultimate motivation pushing him.
“The one that’s been more motivating for me is just my teammates,” said Wayne, who had 38 receptions and two touchdowns before his injury in 2013. “I feel like I kind of left them hanging a little bit last year, so I want to be back out there with my teammates. We all crawled and scratched and did everything possible to go out there and play. Guys in this locker room, that’s who I want to be back out there with.”
Wayne set the standard pretty high for his teammates this afternoon, saying that with all the new additions to the squad, he believes being anything less than a top-five offense in the NFL would be a disappointment for the Colts. Quotes like that must be music to the ears of Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano, who seems more than happy with having the likes of Wayne around the team and ready to play once again.
“I mean you look at him, he looks phenomenal,” said Pagano. “You guys probably haven’t seen him work out and run, but he looks great. Again, I’d be shocked if he wasn’t ready (for training camp). The only reason that he might not get reps early will be because of me if we decide to hold him back. He’ll be ready.”
The receiver Wayne, who seems convinced he’ll once again make a grand entrance to training camp in Anderson come July, had a smart retaliation to Pagano’s comment about possibly holding him back a little.
“I’m planning on bringing some extra boxing gloves for me and Chuck, so whenever he tells me I can’t go, we’re just going to lace’em up,” said Wayne with a laugh. “But I feel great. I can’t wait until camp. This is going to be a long 34 days for me. I’m excited where I am. I’m excited where this team is right now.”