FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- While it's no longer Peyton Manning taking snaps in Indianapolis, one longtime Colts offensive weapon remains, and that's wide receiver Reggie Wayne, who at the age of 33 is on pace to finish with a career-high in receiving yards. He currently trails only Calvin Johnson of the Detroit Lions for the league lead in receiving yards with 931.
And while Wayne's production has remained consistent, he's adopted a different role for the Colts in 2012.
In previous seasons, Wayne was often aligned to one side of the formation throughout the entire game, a tactic the Colts previously employed with receiver Marvin Harrison. But that's not the case any more.
During his Wednesday afternoon press conference, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick drew an interesting comparison for Wayne's current role: former Steelers wider receiver Hines Ward.
"They moved him around a little in the past, but not much," Belichick said. "And now he's Hines Ward. They motion him a lot, he's blocking, cracking, he's lining up close to the formation, he's in the slot, he's doing a lot of things that Hines Ward did in Pittsburgh."
Former Steelers and current Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians brought his offensive system to Indianapolis, and Wayne is once again thriving. That's no surprise to Belichick.
"It's interesting to see him in that role, but he's always been good at whatever he's done," he said. "You see him work the middle of the field on middle reads, and on option routes or that kind of thing, or working on the perimeter. He's good at all of it."
Some questioned whether or not Wayne was the same player of the past during 2011, when he finished with 960 yards, his lowest total since 2003. But Belichick said he saw no dip in terms of ability from Wayne last season.
"I don't really see Reggie Wayne much differently than I saw him in the past," he continued. "He was good then, he's good now. There were some issues with the quarterback and passing game and all that, but I didn't see any dropoff in Reggie Wayne as a football player. Maybe I missed it, but he's always looked pretty good to me."