Reggie Wayne is itching to get back on the football field. The only thing holding him back is Chuck Pagano’s whim.
Pagano has erred on the conservative side with injuries so far this season (no complaints given the Colts injury history). He hasn’t said anything regarding Wayne other than “game-time decision.”
Wayne tore his ACL on October 20th last year against the Broncos. It was a non-contact injury as Wayne tried to adjust to an underthrown pass.
Prior to the injury, Wayne had appeared in 189 straight games (the longest streak by an active receiver) and hadn’t suffered a significant injury since 2001, his rookie year.
Wayne has stated for some time now that he would rather his first hits occur in a preseason game when it doesn’t matter as much. There is a significant mental hurdle for any player returning from a major injury.
“In an ideal world, yeah, go out there not just to get hit, (but) to see the tempo of a live game,” Wayne said to the Indy Star. “There’s no way to simulate any of that stuff. The only way to get it is to go out there and do it.
While you don’t want him to get hurt in the preseason, Wayne needs to take a hit and be able to get right back up to regain that confidence he’s had for years. He could also use a few reps (a series would be fine) at game speed, in full pads, and against an opponent who has no problem hitting him hard.
“But as Chuck has told me, 14 years of an NFL career, I’m sure you remember how it is to get tackled.” Wayne said. “And he’s right. But at the same time, it’s just the competitive nature in me. I want to be out there with my teammates, hear the helmets collide, hear the pads hit each other and get a real live game under my belt.
“I feel good. I feel like the Reggie of old, I really do. Nothing has stopped me from doing what I’ve wanted to do. There’s no routes I can’t run. I guess it’s more just coach Pagano and the Colts organization, they want to see me healthy in week 1.”
There is nothing from camp that would indicate we won’t see the same ol’ Reggie Wayne fans have loved for years. He’s had a number of days off, but no more than any other veteran.
Based on what we’ve heard from Pagano, I doubt we see Wayne in the preseason.