Wayne: 'I will come back better than I was'

INDIANAPOLIS -- Reggie Wayne was around on a regular basis.

Team meetings, constantly talking with offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton, in practices, joking with teammates in the locker room, on the sideline during games and even walking around the field with them during warm ups.

The only place you couldn't find the veteran receiver was on the field in uniform running routes for quarterback Andrew Luck.

But Wayne believes he'll be back out there next season. No, he's confident he'll be back playing next season after a torn ACL limited him to only seven games this season.

"I can tell you that Reggie Wayne, as I'm speaking in the third person, has never lacked confidence," Wayne said. "I'm very, very, very confident I will come back better than I was.

"One thing about this time: It was an opportunity for my body to heal up a little bit so hopefully I stole a year. We'll go from there."

Wayne -- and coach Chuck Pagano -- said from the start that the 35-year-old receiver would prove any doubters wrong who don’t believe he can return from the knee injury.

That’s why Wayne is so committed to his rehabilitation.

"He beats the trainers here," Pagano said. "I hear it all the time that he beats those guys into the training room. He's way ahead of schedule in the rehabbing."

Wayne did not give a timetable on when he’ll return to doing full football activities. He said the “knee is great. Knee is so far, so good. It’s moving forward from there.”

Wayne ranks eighth in NFL history with 1,006 receptions and 11th with 13,566 receiving yards. He traded in the catches, yards and touchdowns this season for being a hands-on mentor for the young receiving group, led by T.Y. Hilton, who stepped up to be Luck’s primary target in Wayne’s absence.

"It humbles you. It really does," Wayne said. "A lot of stuff in life, just period, you take for granted but this was a time for me to sit back and appreciate. I was [placed] in a certain role or a different role than I'm used to but it was cool, man, it was fun.

"It didn't end the way we wanted it to. We know we've got a lot of work to do and hopefully next year will be a different outcome."