INDIANAPOLIS –When the final strains of The Who's 'We Won't Get Fooled Again' reverberate in Lucas Oil Stadium, Reggie Wayne takes a certain path.
Whether he is introduced with the offense or watches his defensive teammates have that moment, Wayne hotfoots it to the northeast corner of the playing field to urge on his fans. Many of those fans hold aloft a sign stating, appropriate and succinctly, 'Reggie.'
He then heads to the northwest corner, yesterday diverting his path along the goal-line to slap hands with military personnel who were part of the anthem, to incite more followers. Those seconds are ritualistic, and compelling.
When Wayne made that trek last December at the final home game against Houston, many wondered if it would be for the last time. Wayne wondered, too. When he snared the game-winning pass in a last-minute 19-16 victory, many, including Wayne, savored the moment in case it were the last one.
It was not. Wayne re-signed with the Colts this past off-season and his brilliant career will continue to play out in blue and white.
Wayne now is one of the team elders. Indianapolis parted ways with a number of established veterans from many previous outstanding seasons, players who earned their way into the hearts of Colts fans just like how many newcomers hoped to start that process on Sunday.
Wayne has seen many more highs than lows during his career. He has been a key contributor to nine playoff participants, two Super Bowl teams and a world champion. He is starting that process over anew, and he liked the first 2012 outing for his Colts.
"It's cool, man," said Wayne of being back home. "It's what I see myself doing (by) playing this game. This is home for me. I'm glad to be back.
"I was excited, even though it was a preseason game. One thing about it, we were able to come out and face an opponent and not fight facing ourselves. Guys were excited and we came out and had a good showing."
Wayne competed for years with one of the game's outstanding quarterbacks in Peyton Manning. He joined the club in Manning's fourth season. Now, the man from 'The U' is on the ground floor of a reloading mode that brings in a new coaching staff, a fresh philosophy and, oh yeah, a rookie quarterback.
He saw Andrew Luck complete a first-ever game-action pass for a 63-yard touchdown. Wayne was on the field for many of Luck's 24 plays over four series, and he saw Luck hit 10-of-16 passes for 188 yards and two scores. While impressed, Wayne figured as much.
"It seemed like he made a lot of right decisions, like he understood what was going on," said Wayne. "It looked like the game was going slow for him. That's expected. The guy, he puts in a lot of work, a lot of hard man hours to work on his craft. He's the number one pick of the draft, so you know he's good. You hope he can continue to be good.
"You saw what he is capable of doing. The guy is smart. He understands the game. He knows what to do. Just watching him out there in practice, it seems like a lot of things are going slow for him. He can sit back and pick things up real quick. He was able to come out and have a good showing. Hopefully, we can work with him and have some good things going."
The Indianapolis offense rolled to 430 net yards and 23 first downs, while converting 11-of-15 third-down conversions. Eleven different rushers combined to amass 116 yards, while 13 different players caught passes from three Colts quarterbacks.
"I'm sure we have a lot of things on there (tape) we can correct. Like they always say, 'You're not always as good as you think you are.' That's probably the case today," said Wayne. "I'm sure that once we watch that film there will be a lot of corrections that need to be made, a lot of mental errors that need to be corrected. We have to get better from that. So far, so good.
The team has gone through 21 practices at Anderson University and returns for a final week that starts Tuesday for the players. Coaches have worked the team hard. Practice days consist of four hours instruction, with the afternoon session being an extended one. Wayne sees dividends.
"The score was a great indication of just showing the fans all the hard work we've been doing since this summer. Those three-hour practices are working for us, and we just had to get a win," said Wayne. "Those fans lost some good players, a lot of favorite players from previous teams. We have to give them something to sit back and smile for. Hopefully, this is a step in that direction. Hopefully, we can continue with some good games."