WAYNE HAS ANOTHER STRONG OPENER – Surrounded by numerous players making their NFL debuts around him, Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne was Mr. Reliable play-after-play on Sunday at Chicago.
Wayne had nine catches for 135 yards, including some impressive grabs that kept Colts drives alive.
"He's obviously a great player and sets a great example for all of us on offense, especially young guys," said quarterback Andrew Luck. "He came up big in a lot of situations. I wish we could have punched a couple in the red zone with him."
In the first half, Wayne had five catches and bounced back from getting the wind knocked out of him late in the second quarter.
On the Colts' first play of their first touchdown drive, Wayne made a diving catch down the left sideline.
The play went for 23 yards and Wayne fell on the football as he made the catch, sending him to the sideline for a play.
Wayne returned to the field soon and his 12-yard reception preceded an 18-yard touchdown run by running back Donald Brown, a score that brought the Colts within 17-14.
In the 2011 season opener, Wayne also eclipsed the 100-yard reception mark, and it is that consistency which has paved the way for five Pro Bowls.
"He's been a warrior for the past 12 years," Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano said. "It doesn't surprise me when you watch the guy prepare. Reggie prepares day in and day out and is able to make plays that he made today."
Sunday's game against the Bears marked the 146th straight start for Wayne, a total that leads all active receivers.
Following the game, Wayne acknowledged the fact that any time a team turns the ball over five times the chances of winning decrease significantly, but he was proud of the way his young teammates battled for 60 minutes.
"The team kept fighting, and didn't give up. Nobody had their head down," Wayne said. "Everybody just kept going out there wanting to make plays. We just have to go and watch the film and see what we did good and see what we did bad, and try not to make those same bad mistakes in the following weeks."
RUNNING GAME SHOWS FLASHES – Early on in Sunday's game with the Bears, the Colts' rushing attack was struggling to find any rhythm.
Running back Donald Brown had two carries for minus six yards in the first quarter.
However as the Colts began to march on their first scoring drive of 2012, Brown and the ground game began to come alive.
Brown had a pair of 18-yard carries on the Colts' five-play, 77-yard touchdown drive.
It was the second of those two 18-yard carries, a play on which Brown was virtually untouched, that gave the fourth-year back his first touchdown of the season.
After the first two carries for Brown, he finished the game with seven rushes for 54 yards for an attack that did not have many attempts in the second half.
"Obviously there were times we ran well," Pagano said. "You saw Donald Brown hit a few really good runs in there. He has done that all through training camp and all through preseason."
Running back Mewelde Moore returned to the Colts lineup after missing the final three preseason games due to a rib injury.
Along with rookie running back Vick Ballard, Brown knows that his position must provide more of a balance for Luck and the offense.
"We need to do a better job running the ball. We need to do a better job protecting (Luck) and we need to catch the ball," Brown said.
"I dropped two balls today I shouldn't have dropped. We'll learn from our mistakes and move on."
FREEMAN MAKES IMPACT IN NFL DEBUT– When Colts linebacker Jerrell Freeman headed out with the first-team defense on Sunday afternoon, he was playing for much more than just himself.
Freeman became the first player ever from Mary Hardin-Baylor to play in an NFL game, and he was anything but just a footnote on Sunday.
On the Bears' fourth offensive snap from scrimmage, Freeman picked off quarterback Jay Cutler and returned the interception four yards for a touchdown.
"It was pretty a good feeling," Freeman said. "We had been watching film and I just took a chance and went ahead and jumped it, and it was the right move."
The Colts' special teams had pinned the Bears up against their goal line, and the opportunity for a pivotal turnover was there for the taking.
As Cutler dropped back to pass, Freeman ran to the right flat and stepped in front of a pass intended for running back Matt Forte.
"(Cutler) had already went into his throwing the ball motion, and I just went ahead and broke on the ball," Freeman said.
Starting for injured inside linebacker Pat Angerer, Freeman had five tackles on the afternoon.
Angerer could be out for a couple of more weeks, so Freeman is expected to see continued playing time in the middle of the Colts' 3-4 hybrid scheme.
"I give myself a C ," Freeman said of his NFL debut. "I'm pretty hard on myself. It might not show up on film, but I felt I should have made some more plays."
In the Colts' final preseason game of 2012, Freeman's football coach at Mary Hardin-Baylor, Pete Fredenburg, was in attendance at Lucas Oil Stadium.
For Freeman the long, travelled road through the Canadian Football League to his dream has been well worth it. Now, he is ready to establish a successful career in the NFL.
"There are a lot of people I'm playing for," Freeman said. "I represent more than just me. It was pretty good getting on the field actually making some plays. (I) left a couple out there that I should have made. We've got a lot of work to do."