It had been a little less than eleven months since Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne had torn his ACL against the Denver Broncos late last October, and on Sunday night, the future Hall of Famer played in his first regular season game since the devastating injury.
And though the Colts (0-1) fell short 31-24 in their bid to defeat the defending AFC champion Broncos, it was a positive sight to see No. 87 looking as if he had never lost a step.
“It was about what I expected,” said Wayne with a grieving smile after the loss. “I knew it was going to be tough. I had been away from my teammates for a long time. It was tough at first, but once they kicked the ball, it was normal as usual. I have all the confidence in the world. Dr. Uribe told me that he had fixed it, I believed him, and it was up to me to go out and rehab.”
After the playing of the national anthem Wayne turned to head coach Chuck Pagano and gave him a hug, and afterwards it seemed as if Wayne was back to his killer-competitive ways. The first pass that Colts quarterback Andrew Luck threw to Wayne’s direction was a completion, and ultimately over the course of the game Wayne finished with nine receptions for 98 yards.
“He was just like Reggie of old,” said Pagano. “We didn’t have to monitor how many plays here and there, he just went out and played. It was great.”
Wayne did have a scare in the second half, as the Colts were driving inside their own ten yard-line and Luck tossed a ball in Wayne’s direction. He caught the ball, but his legs went out from underneath him. Wayne was slow to get up, and hobbled shortly after the incident, but was fine for the rest of the contest.
“It held up,” said Wayne. “It more scared me more than anything. It kind of aggravated a little bit but I was able to tough it out and finish the game.”
Wayne was targeted 13 times total throughout the game, including the Colts’ final fourth-down attempt in which Wayne may or may not have been pushed by Broncos cornerback Bradley Roby for a pass interference call that never came. Either way the pass ended up being incomplete, part of a week one loss that the team was very disappointed with following the game.
“Man, I just sit back and look at the game and we had our opportunities,” said Wayne. “We had so many chances. Not to take anything from Denver, they did what they had to do to win, but we had our chances and let them squander away.”