Colts – 24, Steelers – 26
Wide receiver Reggie Wayne has played 11 seasons in the NFL, and he’s spent his entire career in Indianapolis.
And although he remains a Colt into his 12th year, everything is changing.
Wayne played 11 seasons catching in-the-belly passes from Peyton Manning. Now he’s receiving from a rookie in Andrew Luck (who’s proving he can throw a pretty accurate pass, too). Wayne spent 9 seasons running essentially the same offense, coached by Tony Dungy and his pupil-like successor Jim Caldwell. Now he’s learning an entirely new playbook under new defensive-minded coach Chuck Pagano. Wayne always lined up left. Now, he lines up just about anywhere. Most significantly, with Peyton Manning in Denver, Reggie Wayne is the Colts’ face of the franchise, the veteran and ultimate leader of the team.
Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?
After a disastrous first quarter for the Colts in their first of only two primetime games this season, Reggie Wayne led the team back from a 14-0 deficit to a 17-14 lead at halftime.
Things certainly weren’t pretty when the Colts kicked off against the Steelers at Heinz Field Sunday night. While the defense at first flourished, ending the Steelers’ first drive with an Antoine Bethea interception, the offense outright struggled. The Colts’ first drive was a three-and-out, and then, after a Steelers’ touchdown, the team again was forced to punt. The following drive, Andrew Luck’s pass was intercepted and returned for a touchdown – his first pick-six (Better to get it out of the way now, before the games really count). On his next play, Luck was sacked. To make matters worse, the team lost Cory Redding, Robert Mathis, and Austin Collie to injuries. It was definitely a turnaround from the team’s first preseason romp against the Rams last week.
But Luck, calm as a cucumber, did not let his mistakes, nor the team’s misfortunes, affect him. He rebounded, and Wayne helped…a lot. Following his sack, Luck threw a nine-yard completion to Wayne, which got the quarterback back on track. Luck then threw three more completions for 51 yards. His drive would ultimately culminate with a rushing touchdown by Donald Brown, who gave Luck his first ever touchdown score last week.
Later in the 2nd quarter, Luck completed three successive passes to Wayne for a total of 48 yards, again en route to a rushing touchdown – this time by Luck himself. Wayne ultimately led the Colts in receiving with 6 catches for 74 yards. Although things are very new for Wayne, his veteran experience and leadership makes him an invaluable asset. It seems as if he has had no problems adjusting to a new playbook, although he may tell you otherwise.
The Colts went on to lose their second preseason contest, but when their starting quarterback ended his night, the team was leading by three points. Mission accomplished.
There was a time that many thought Reggie Wayne would be playing for a different team this year. After a 2-14 season with the Colts in 2011, Wayne’s contract was up, and it didn’t look like Jim Irsay would renew it.
Reggie Wayne says his “heart” wouldn’t let him leave Indianapolis. He ultimately took less money to remain with the team that drafted him. He will remain a Colt for at least the next three years.
For his career, Wayne has 862 receptions for 11,708 yards – good enough for second in Colts history behind only Marvin Harrison – yet he still spends hours catching footballs from a machine at practice to keep him on his toes. Many times he will practice catching with just one hand. He makes it look easy.
I’m certainly glad Reggie Wayne is staying around. For me, not only is he the Horseshoe Hero of the second week of the preseason, but he is also a Horseshoe Hero of the entire season. I fully expect him to be named to the Colts’ honorable Ring of Fire after his retirement…which I hope isn’t anytime soon.
Check back next week for the naming of the third preseason game’s Horseshoe Hero when the Colts travel again to take on the Washington Redskins. For more frequent Colts updates, news, and commentary, you can follow me: @catierae08.