INDIANAPOLIS -- Reggie Wayne, in what had become a cleared-out locker room at that point, gradually was making his way out when it was mentioned to him that he has every right to tell the non-believers, “I told you so,” in his ability to return from a torn ACL at the age of 35.
Wayne, with a grin that could have easily lit up the room, looked and said, "I just play.”
Not that Wayne had anything to prove -- he did that in Week 1 against Denver -- but he showed yet again that his skillset hasn’t diminished on a play in the third quarter of the Indianapolis Colts' 41-17 victory over the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.
With Wayne lined up on the outside, quarterback Andrew Luck threw to his receiver’s back shoulder, causing him to adjust his body to make the reception and beat Titans cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson to the pylon for the touchdown.
“As I’m running, one thing I know, a defender, whenever we’re side by side and they’re looking back for the ball, I know they’re going to play hands,” Wayne said. “Andrew threw the ball and it was kind of like a back shoulder throw so I wanted to wait until the last second to stick my hands out. He did a great job of delivering the ball. The rest was just doing what I’m paid to do and that’s catch the ball.”
Wayne is no longer the player who will have catch-and-run 75-yard touchdowns. He knows it and has no problem admitting it.
What Wayne is, though, is reliable. He studies film like few others where he’s able to use his smarts and precision route running to make up for he doesn't have in the speed department anymore.
That’s why he finished with seven catches for 119 yards and a touchdown against a Titans’ defense that was second in the league against the pass.
“He’s a technician,” Luck said. “I think he’s has mastered the craft of being a wide receiver. He sees coverages incredibly well. He knows what zone, man, where the blitz is coming from. He understands football and I think he’s mastered his craft, and he takes it seriously. It’s his profession.”
Wayne hasn’t looked like a player who missed most of last season with a torn ACL, which is why he moved up in the record books on Sunday. He surpassed Isaac Bruce for seventh place on the NFL’s all-time receptions list (1,029) and Henry Ellard for 10th on the most receiving yards list (13,873).
“Whenever you’ve been around the game so long, you pick up on things that certain people don’t pick up on,” receiver Hakeem Nicks said. “You have an advantage. He uses that and I feel like he’s the best at getting open and creating separation. He’s not all about speed necessarily, so you know he works the routes and getting open. Hats off to him for everything he’s accomplished.”
Wayne has proven through the first four weeks of the season that he still remains one of Luck’s security blankets despite having players such as Nicks, T.Y. Hilton, Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen as throwing options.
Six of Wayne’s seven catches, including two on third down, were good enough for a first down or a touchdown. He’s tied with Hilton for first down catches at 16 this season.
“I guarantee you I’m not the only one that’s open,” Wayne said. “I take pride in keeping the chains moving. Everybody wants to score touchdowns and make big plays, but I know third down is a money down. To get touchdowns you have to continue to keep the chains moving to get the first downs. When my number is called, I want to take advantage of it. My man 12 (Luck) has enough faith in me to throw me to throw the ball. I want to let him know I’m there for him. Not just him, the whole team.”