Colts’ Wayne drawing more attention from opponents

Reggie Wayne spent eight NFL seasons watching Marvin Harrison

attract attention.

Peyton Manning repeatedly looked his way, defenses rolled double

coverage his way and the records kept falling his way.

Apparently, Wayne did more than just observe. He was taking

notes, and now, in his first season as the Colts’ undisputed No. 1

receiver, Wayne is putting those lessons to work.

“Sometimes I can go to Peyton on the sideline and say, ‘They’re

doubling me on certain plays,’ and Peyton will send me on an out

route just for fun, to run two guys off,” Wayne said Thursday.

“That’s how it goes. I’ve seen them double Marvin and leave me

singled, and now it’s my turn.”

With four games left, Wayne’s 83 receptions are tied for second

in the NFL, putting him on pace for a second 100-reception season

if the unbeaten Colts let him play after locking up their playoff

seed. He’s topped 1,000 yards for the sixth straight season and is

likely headed to his fourth straight Pro Bowl.

Indy (12-0) has already clinched the division title and a win

Sunday against Denver would give the Colts an NFL record 22nd

consecutive victory and the top seed in the AFC.

Occasionally, there are games like last weekend, when Wayne

seems more blue-collar worker than top target. Against Tennessee,

he had four receptions for 48 yards, a day he could have used the

construction helmet that hangs in his locker.

“It’s part of the game, there’s nothing you can do and as long

as we win games that’s OK,” Wayne said. “There are going to be

some games where I disappoint some fantasy coaches, but that’s how

it is.”

When that happens, Wayne’s responsibility is to use his talents

to help teammates, just like Harrison did for him.

The results:

– Tight end Dallas Clark has 77 catches and 859 yards and could

break his own single-season franchise records for a tight end this


– Second-year receiver Pierre Garcon, a virtual unknown before

this season, is averaging 16.5 yards on 43 catches.

– Rookie receiver Austin Collie has 47 receptions for 501 yards

and five TDs.

Wayne has had a hand in all of it.

“I think this is a different type of year for him,” Manning

said recently. “His role has changed. He’s taken some of these

guys under his wing a little bit and helped those guys. (Assistant

head coach) Clyde (Christensen) has challenged Reggie to take his

game to the next level. I think Reggie has answered that


But now Wayne is taking another page out of Harrison’s


Five weeks ago, Wayne, almost unnoticed, passed Hall of Famer

Raymond Berry for second on the Colts career reception list. Wayne

needs just 112 yards to pass Berry for second on the franchise’s

career yardage list, leaving only Harrison ahead of him in both


So the New Orleans native plans to cherish the moment


“It comes with the territory. When you put in all that effort,

those accolades will come, I learned that from Marv,” Wayne said.

“I think he (Berry) paved the way for us. He did it, he did it the

right way and he’s a great person.”

Wayne’s teammates use the exact same words to describe him.

“He (Wayne) is a great person,” Garcon said.

And he’s figured out what it takes to become an even better


Wayne was a first-round pick in the 2001 draft but had an

injury-plagued rookie season. He has steadily improved. He used his

strong hands, which Manning called the strongest in the 2001 draft

class, to earn the confidence of his quarterback and used

Harrison’s example as his guide book.

Wayne was part of Indy’s 1,000-yard, 10-TD catch trio in 2004.

Two years ago, when Harrison missed most of the year with a knee

injury, Wayne had a career-high 104 receptions and an NFL best

1,510 yards. Last year, his numbers topped Harrison’s.

So with Harrison gone, Wayne has figured out how to thrive with

the spotlight on him.

“You’ve got to be prepared for whenever your name is called,”

he said. “One game it’s Dallas having a big day, then it’s Collie.

Whenever you have that many bullets in the chamber, that’s going to

happen. You have to stay focused and know that sometime your name

will be called and if you’re moping around you’re not going to be

ready for the opportunity.”