While the Colts rookie class has garnered a bulk of the attention this year on the offensive side of the ball for Indianapolis, it’s the veteran of the unit who is putting up career numbers in his 12th NFL season.
Reggie Wayne has provided a constant target for quarterback Andrew Luck with a reliable set of hands that seems to come up with the ball continually on third downs.
Wayne’s 69 catches leads the NFL and his 931 receiving yards is good for second in the league. As Wayne nears his 34th birthday, those numbers don’t come as a surprise to Bruce Arians.
“He works out and keeps himself in tremendous shape and I think he got rejuvenated in the fact that he basically is a rookie in this offense having come off the left side, being on the right side, being in the slot, being in motion, doing all the things that his abilities allow him to do because he’s so smart,” Arians said.
“I think he sees that can extend his career for a while and he’s in full tilt. It’s a pleasure to have a guy like that, with his work ethic and his brains on your football team be your leader.”
While several key cogs on the Colts offense moved on following the 2011 regular season, Wayne re-signed with the team that drafted him back in 2001.
Learning a new offense scheme and creating a rapport with a rookie quarterback was going to be needed the offseason.
Even with Luck missing part of OTAs due to finishing up his degree at Stanford, Wayne made sure the two got the necessarily work in prior to training camp including a trip down to the University of Miami.
“I think they stayed in such constant communication from when they were allowed to talk and then the time they spent in Florida and all the days up here in the summer,” Arians said.
“It’s not like he’s sitting on that left side and you just throw balls to him like you used to and you get the route tree now. He’s got 50 or 60 different alignments and different routes. I think (the success) is a credit to both of them, how much hard work they’ve put in on and off the field.”
For good reason, Luck has found himself targeting No. 87 more than any other player during the first nine games this season.
With so many fellow rookies at the skill positions surrounding Luck, his relationship with Wayne has been vital to the offense’s success.
“He’s been awesome to be around, so that’s been great for me,” Luck said. “You hear a big name like Reggie and think he going to be like standoffish or look down on you, which hasn’t been the case at all. I don’t know if I’ve been surprised but it’s been really nice getting to know him and being in the same locker room with him.”
When Arians took the reigns as offensive coordinator he had a hunch of who is quarterback would be and he also had a strong feeling that a Pro Bowl receiver would be returning to the fold.
“I wasn’t (surprised) because he’s a Colt and he wanted to be a Colt bad,” Arians said of Wayne’s free agency. “He’s a legend here and he’s going to go into the Hall of Fame.”
“He always wanted to be here and as soon as Chuck (Pagano) made that call, it was just a matter of, ‘Yeah I’m coming.’ He knew what he was getting into and I think he’s excited more than anybody with the change. He’s jumped in and he’s really excited about it. You can’t put a quantified value on how much his leadership means to our team.
Tags: Andrew Luck, bruce arians, chuck pagano, Reggie Wayne
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