Colts Wide Receiver Reggie Wayne Says Commitment to Teammates Imant
ANDERSON, Ind. – He's here, and he's ready to start getting ready, and that's what Reggie Wayne says is important.
Not the off-season. Not anything in the past.
Wayne, a four-time Pro Bowl selection and one of the NFL's top receivers for much of the last decade, reported on time Sunday and practiced with the team Monday morning after missing the team's organized team activities and mini-camp during this past off-season.
Wayne spoke to reporters following the morning session, and said what's important now is working to prepare for the coming season.
And he said that's what he'll do.
"The most important thing is I'm here," Wayne said Monday following the first of two practices on the opening day of 2010 Colts Training Camp, which is being held this year at Anderson University for the first time in more than a decade.
Defensive end Robert Mathis, a two-time Pro Bowl selection, who also missed the team's mandatory mini-camp in June, said the decision to attend camp was a simple one.
"I spoke my peace," said Mathis, a Pro Bowl selection who has 59.5 sacks – 9.5 last season – said following the Colts' Monday morning practice.
"I let it be known how I feel, and that's it."
Wayne, who has had at least 1,000 yards receiving in each of the last six seasons, caught 100 passes for 1,264 yards and 10 touchdowns last season. It was the second-highest reception total of his career, and the third time in six seasons he has had double-digit touchdowns.
He typically works out in Miami in the off-season, and did so again this past off-season, but he usually attends the Colts' mandatory veteran mini-camp. He opted not to do so this past off-season because of a contract issue, but said he opted to attend training camp because not being in camp would let his teammates down.
And that, Wayne said, was the biggest reason he believed it important to be in Anderson Sunday:
After much consideration, he wanted to be with his teammates when camp began.
"I thought about it, but it was bigger than me," said Wayne, a first-round selection by the Colts in the 2001 NFL Draft. "I had already let my teammates down once."
Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell, an assistant with the Colts since 2002, said he wasn't surprised Wayne reported on time for training camp.
"Reggie's a professional," Caldwell said. "Obviously, he's a guy we've certainly depended on to make big plays for us. He looked good. He's in good shape, as usual, and he caught the ball well."
Colts quarterback Peyton Manning said Wayne's presence was welcome, and that he liked what he saw from Wayne Monday morning.
"Absolutely," Manning said. "You love having all of your best players. I thought he looked really good today. He was in tip-top shape and I thought he was really off to a good start today."
Manning also addressed on Monday a deep wide receiver position that features not only Wayne, but second-year veteran Austin Collie, third-year veteran Pierre Garcon and fourth-year veteran Anthony Gonzalez, the latter of whom practiced Monday after missing all but one game last season with a knee injury.
"I really like the group because of how hard they work – the unselfishness of the group," said Manning, the National Football League's Most Valuable Player each of the past two seasons. "They're guys that like to catch the ball and make yards after the catch. They're guys who like to get physical.
"From that standpoint, I'm really excited about the group."
Pro Bowl tight end Dallas Clark, a teammate of Wayne's since 2003 and one of Wayne's closest friends on the team, said appearing illustrated Wayne's commitment to the Colts and to his teammates. Wayne and Clark each caught 100 passes a year ago, and the duo's production has been key to the passing offense in recent seasons.
"It shows the character, the person he is and what he thinks about this team," Clark said. "It's great to have him here. A lot of guys around the league hold out as leverage. Every person's different, but it's great to see Reggie take the high road in the situation for the betterment of the team."
Although Wayne was not in Indianapolis throughout much of the off-season, he said he did what he could be become familiar with the Colts' preparations.
"Over the summer, I called Coach (Offensive Coordinator Clyde) Christensen," Wayne said. "I said, 'When you get a chance, send me some film,' so I could watch some film of OTAs and mini-camps. I was watching that and I realized, 'It's weird, man – No. 87's not out there.'
"I told myself to 'think about it, think about it, think about it.' I prayed about it and it was out of my hands."