Colts' Reggie Wayne plays big, supports QB Painter
Reggie Wayne spoke up to defend Curtis Painter, then dramatically backed up his words.
Wayne was offended when the Colts brought Kerry Collins out of retirement to back up injured quarterback Peyton Manning and possibly start if Manning isn't ready for the opener.
Wayne believes Painter's knowledge of Indianapolis' complex offense gives the team its best chance to win games if Manning's neck isn't fully healed in the next few weeks. Wayne sounded off on Collins' acquisition Wednesday and promised he would go all out to help Painter.
''I'm going balls to the walls for him, man,'' Wayne said. ''I'm not going to let anybody just come in here. I don't care who you are. I mean I'm not going to let anyone just come in here and just push someone aside like you're that dog now, you know what I mean. I'm sure Curtis is thinking it, and if he's not thinking it, I'll take the challenge for him.''
Wayne caught six passes for 105 yards and a touchdown in the second quarter Friday night in a 24-21 loss to the Green Bay Packers. A look of satisfaction crossed his face when asked about Painter's performance.
''You kind of want to go out there and make plays for him, to give him that confidence,'' Wayne said. ''He did a good job.''
Painter said he appreciated Wayne's words of encouragement.
''I think it makes you feel good,'' Painter said. ''That's kind of what you go for, is to have confidence from the guys around you, the coaching staff, other players.''
Collins, a 16-year veteran with more than 40,000 yards passing, didn't take Wayne's comments personally.
''We've had several conversations,'' Collins said. ''I saw what Reggie said. I didn't take offense to that. If anything, he's sticking up for his teammate, and I respect that.''
Team general manager Chris Polian said management wasn't concerned about Wayne's comments.
''I don't think anybody blinked at that,'' Polian told The Associated Press. ''Reggie is a true pro. He is a very proud player, a very good performer and equally good as a teammate. So I don't think anybody in this organization blinked at his comments.''
Though Painter had a big game, Green Bay backup Graham Harrell provided the fireworks that decided the outcome.
Harrell led Green Bay to a staggering 11 points in the final 35 seconds. He took advantage of two Colts' defensive penalties and, on fourth-and-10 from the Colts 11, he scrambled and found rookie tight end Ryan Taylor for the TD pass. Harrell connected with Taylor again for the 2-point conversion to tie it. After Green Bay recovered the onside kick, Harrell moved the Packers (2-1) into position for Mason Crosby's 50-yard field goal as time expired.
Things started well for the Packers.
Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers took Green Bay 81 yards on its second series and finished it with an 18-yard TD pass to Jermichael Finley over the arms of linebacker Pat Angerer. Green Bay went 61 yards on its next series, and Crosby's 26-yard field goal made it 10-0 early in the second quarter.
It looked as if it would be another disappointing outing for Painter. On his first three series, Painter completed 1 of 5 passes for 7 yards before everything suddenly clicked.
Painter led the Colts into field goal range before Adam Vinatieri missed a 39-yard field goal. Painter came right back on the next possession, exploited a blown coverage and found Wayne down the sideline for a 57-yard touchdown.
''That would never happen in the regular season,'' Wayne said. ''I would never have that easy of a touchdown. But right now, we'll take it. Touchdown Colts.''
On the Colts' next series, Painter ran the 2-minute drill to perfection, He threaded 36-yard pass down the right sideline to Pierre Garcon, then lobbed a 7-yard touchdown pass to Chris Brooks in the left corner of the end zone to give Indy a 14-10 lead.
''Getting in those situations and getting some things right, that meant a lot,'' Painter said.
Painter fumbled on Indy's first possession of the third quarter and he didn't return. He already had left an impression.
''I think he did good,'' Wayne said. ''He came out tonight, did a good job. He responded well. He took everything in stride, and that's what he's been doing since I've known him.''
Painter is uncertain about his future with the Colts.
''I don't have a whole lot of control over any of those decisions,'' he said. ''Hopefully, I'll just continue to put myself in position to help the team.''
Notes: Green Bay's starters played one half, while the Colts pulled their starters early in the third quarter. ... Colts Pro Bowl defensive end Robert Mathis left in the first quarter with a hamstring injury. ... Collins was dressed in his familiar No. 5 jersey. Rookie punter Travis Baltz, who was wearing No. 5, switched to No. 2. ... Receivers Greg Jennings and Randall Cobb were among 11 Packers to sit out. Both have bruised knees. ... In addition to playing without Manning, the Colts were missing defensive captain Gary Brackett, Pro Bowl safety Antoine Bethea and receivers Austin Collie and Anthony Gonzalez.
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