Wayne Can Become 11th Player in NFL History with 100 Receptions in Consecutive Seasons
INDIANAPOLIS – The truth is, not much has changed.
As four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Reggie Wayne sees it, not only have the Colts been playing through tough situations this season, they have been doing so as far back as he can remember.
So, while Wayne said losing another offensive skill player for the season this week is hardly ideal, he and the rest of the Colts' offense will do what they have done much of the season – and during many, many past seasons as well.
They'll show up. They'll play.
And they'll figure out a way to be productive.
"That's how it has been," Wayne said Friday as the AFC South-leading Colts (8-6) prepared to play the Oakland Raiders (7-7) at Oakland Coliseum Sunday at 4:05 p.m.
"To be honest with you, that's how it has been since I've been here. Everybody up front (in the front office) does a great job of finding guys who can fit in this scheme, fit in this system. No matter what, they come in and they're productive.
"We've had guys play at an early stage of their careers. Guys do a good job of coming in and stepping in for the older guys whatever the situation may be.
"It has been that kind of year. Everybody's been able to show up and make things happen."
And as has been the case for much of the last decade, Wayne has been one of the players producing – whatever the circumstances around him.
And make no mistake:
When it comes to difficult circumstances, this year qualifies.
The Colts this week placed Austin Collie on injured reserve, ending the second-year wide receiver's season with two weeks remaining.
Collie, who has emerged as a key component of the offense this season, is second on the Colts with 58 receptions for 649 yards and a team-high eight touchdowns, and the Colts also have played much of this season without tight end Dallas Clark and wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez.
Those players were placed on injured reserve last month, and starting running back Joseph Addai – as critical to the passing offense as the running offense – missed eight weeks with a neck injury. He practiced full throughout the week and is expected to play for the first time since October.
Throughout the season, however, at least one element has remained consistent for the Colts:
The production of Wayne.
"It's just going out there and putting more weight on your shoulders, knowing teams are going to be paying extra attention to you, because you have a lot of guys out," Wayne said. "You still want to have the opunity to get open and receive passes. All that comes with hard work and effort, the dedication – all the stuff we've done since this summer to this point now. It doesn't get any easier, but it can be done.
"I really feel like it's been the same. It might have been easier if those guys were here, but it could have been harder. With Collie out there and with Dallas healthy, there might have been more balls going to other guys."
Wayne leads the AFC and is second in the NFL with 99 receptions for 1,247 yards and five touchdowns. He has had at least 65 yards receiving in 10 of 14 games, and in his 10th NFL season, he has turned in two of the biggest single-game performances of his career.
"Whenever your main guys are out, you try your best to be accounted for," Wayne said. "That's the way it goes. If I was out and wasn't playing, then I'm sure Pierre Garcon would have stepped his game up even more. He would be the guy who was in the hunt for us.
"We have enough weapons on our team where anytime any guy could be the guy with 100 catches."
Wayne caught 15 passes for 196 yards in Week 3 against Jacksonville, and in a December 5 game against Dallas, he caught 14 passes for 200 yards and a touchdown. He has four 100-yard games this season.
Not that consistency or reliability is anything new for Wayne.
Wayne, a Pro Bowl selection each of the past four seasons, hasn't missed a game since his rookie season of 2001, and whatever the circumstances surrounding the Colts, he has been productive.
With one reception Sunday, he can become the 11th player in NFL history with 100 or more receptions in consecutive seasons. And he would be the 7th receiver in NFL history with three or more career 100-reception seasons.
"I think if you're a receiver you do (appreciate a 100-reception season)," Wayne said. "You see so many guys every year with 100 catches year in and year out. I think if you're not a receiver, you figure it's the norm. But being a receiver, you understand how tough it is and how challenging it can be throughout a regular season.
"You tend to respect the guys who are able to do it, especially the guys who are able to do it year in and year out."
Wayne smiled and said reaching the plateau does feature a drawback.
"You're going to assure yourself the next year, you're going to draw a lot of attention to yourself," Wayne said. "So to do it the following year is even more kudos to it. It gets harder and harder each year."
Wayne, asked if he could have imagined reaching a plateau a decade ago – when he joined the Colts as a first-round selection in the 2001 NFL Draft during the prime of eight-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Marvin Harrison's career – smiled again.
"I was just trying to get on the field and to get into the starting lineup," Wayne said. "You never really see yourself doing it. As a receiver, you see yourself being able to do it, but you never picture yourself doing it until you get roughly 20 catches out. Then, you start seeing how many games are left. Then, you start doing the math: 'If I can catch five a game from this point on out, I'll be good . . .'
"It's not easy, but once you're in a zone, you don't even look at it. You just keep playing."
And yes, Wayne said, the math does add up for at least one catch Sunday.
"Somewhere in there," he said, smiling. "We'll see. Hopefully, I get quite a few balls, but as long as we come out with the W, that's all that matters. Everything else will just take care of itself."