INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Reggie Wayne watched anxiously as the Colts’ offseason workouts rolled on without him Tuesday.
He’s not permitted to be in the huddle and wasn’t even allowed to be on the sideline as the Colts’ mandatory three-day mini-camp opened. For a 35-year-old Pro Bowl receiver who has preached the importance of practice for more than a decade, it was pure agony.
Yes, Wayne would have preferred to be out on the field on this warm, blustery afternoon.
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”Yeah, he was ready to run in there right at the end of that team drill. He looks great,” coach Chuck Pagano said when asked about Wayne occasionally poking his head out from the team’s indoor practice facility to catch a glimpse of practice. ”Again, we’re going to have to have plenty of security around him so he doesn’t sneak out in pads come training camp time and try to get in there too soon.”
Indianapolis has clamped down hard and with good reason given the league’s spate of offseason injuries this year.
While Wayne has been cleared to do essentially everything on his own, including running, team officials have held him out of team work as he attempts to recover from a torn ACL in his right knee at an age most of the league’s top receivers ponder retirement. There’s no rush to make it happen now anyway because the Colts expect Wayne to be healthy during training camp.
But there’s no doubt Wayne has made an impression on those around him.
He’s continued his usually rigorous offseason routine in Miami’s scorching heat in hopes of proving all the doubters wrong, and he’s served as a mentor to teammates and coaches whenever he’s been in town.
Last week, Indy’s assistant coaches appeared ready to draft him onto the staff even though they know he’ll be more valuable catching passes from Andrew Luck, and Wayne has been popping up in strange places around the team complex, too.
”He’s like another coach, and he’s not just in the wide receivers room,” said tight end Dwayne Allen, who missed most of last season with a hip injury. ”He’s been in a lot of different rooms, showing you how to come back from an injury, how to run different routes and stuff like that.”
It was originally thought Wayne would speak with reporters Tuesday, something he hasn’t done since April. Instead, he left that task to his teammates and Pagano. Wayne is expected to talk either Wednesday or Thursday.
But he’s only part of the story at this week’s final offseason mini-camp.
Three of Indy’s defensive starters sat out Tuesday – cornerback Vontae Davis, safety LaRon Landry and defensive end Cory Redding.
Pagano said Redding was excused to tend to deal with ”family stuff,” while Davis was out with a groin injury after signing a four-year, $39 million deal in March.
Landry, meanwhile, was undergoing team physicals after skipping all of Indy’s previous offseason workouts following a season in which he did not meet his two-time Pro Bowl pedigree.
”He (Landry) works probably as hard as anybody, but we wish he was here more time,” Pagano said. ”But he’s working, probably too hard.”
The Colts also are trying to fill holes after losing defensive end Fili Moala and safety Corey Lynch with season-ending injuries last week.
They recently signed former Broncos safety Mike Adams, who hopes to compete with Delano Howell for a starting job, and brought in two more players for workouts Tuesday – defensive tackle Brandon McKinney and linebacker-safety Jonathan Sharpe. Sharpe was in camp with Seattle last season as an undrafted rookie. McKinney ended up on the Colts’ injured reserve list for the second straight season and made the two-hour drive from Dayton, Ohio on Monday to work out for the coaches.
”My main thing is show them I can still move around, still cut on it,” McKinney said, referring to his surgically-repaired left knee. ”I’m just trying to prove I can come in and play the game.”
Wayne doesn’t have to prove he can play the game – just that he can be his old self.
And there’s no shortage of motivation.
He needs 97 receptions and 1,015 yards to break Marvin Harrison’s franchise records, he’s in the final year of his contract and has made no secret of his desire to demonstrate he’s no ordinary 35-year-old football player.
Luck expects nothing less.
”I leave that up to the doctors and coaches to decide how much we do, but it’s always nice to have him in the building,” Luck said. ”He’s a great presence. He’s also a great learning tool for a lot of young guys. He’s always willing to share his thoughts if you ask him. So it’s just nice to have him around.”