Colts Refor Work at 2008 Training Camp
INDIANAPOLIS – With a smile, Reggie Wayne apologized immediately.
He didn't intended to disappoint media and fans by arriving at 2008 Training Camp without a theme, but the Colts' two-time Pro Bowl wide receiver said considering the circumstances, maybe attention-grabbing clothing wasn't appropriate, anyway.
There are, he said, a number of undecided issues surrounding the team.
The team's eight-time Pro Bowl quarterback is out with an injury.
The 2007 Defensive Player of the Year is, too.
And so is the team's three-time Pro Bowl defensive end.
With Peyton Manning, Bob Sanders and Dwight Freeney expected to be out the early portion of training camp, that was the predominant theme among players and media as the Colts reported Thursday.
And Wayne said a costume just didn't seem the right attire.
"I let a lot of people down, I know," Wayne said as he and his teammates reported to camp at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology Thursday morning/afternoon. "I was going to do something, but with all the stuff we've got going on, I decided to just be me this year."
Wayne in 2006 reported to camp in an Arizona Cardinals Edgerrin James jersey, honoring the former Colts running back who signed with Arizona that off-season. Last year, he reported in fatigues to symbolize the Colts – who won the Super Bowl the previous February – being "hunted."
This year, Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy said six players – Sanders, Freeney, offensive guard Ryan Lilja, linebacker Tyjuan Hagler and rookie tight end Tom Santi – could open camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list.
"You have them every year," Colts President Bill Polian said. "There are bumps in the road. Those things happen. You just fight through them.
"It's not a big deal now. It's a long way between now and September 7."
Freeney, who sustained a season-ending foot injury in November of last season, said he feels healthy enough to participate when the Colts open practice Friday.
"If it was up to me, I would have played in January when we played San Diego (in the AFC playoffs," Freeney said, smiling. "I know there's a process. It's going to be tough for me to sit around for the first three weeks, but I know Coach (Colts Head Coach Tony) Dungy and them have a good game plan and we have to stick with that and trust them."
Freeney said he expects to return in about three weeks. Dungy said this week he expects that aside from Hagler, whom Dungy expects will be out until early October, none of the possible PUP players likely will be long-term situations.
Freeney said he would like to play in the fourth or fifth preseason game.
"You want to do what the doctors think is best," Polian said. "That's the way we've always structured things. The doctors make the call, then after that, we want to make sure with the strength and conditioning coaches that a player is capable and conditioned. That's the issue with Dwight. How far along is he in his conditioning to where we feel comfortable putting him out there so he doesn't regress?
"Players always say they want to get out there. Most of the time you have to put on the reins on a little bit. Discretion is usually the better part of valor."
The absence of Manning, who never has missed a game or practice in 10 previous NFL seasons, as well as that of Sanders and Freeney, was a topic among several players Thursday.
"We've got a few guys who have some issues, but all in all, I think we'll be ready to go and it's time to get some work done," Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri said. "All year is important. You don't win games in January and February if you're not preparing this time of the year. The guys have worked real hard this off-season and now it's time to get out here and sweat and get ready to go.
"You enjoy the off time, but you start itching a little bit to get back and get the helmet on. The last two months were nice, but it's definitely time for football."
Said offensive guard Charlie Johnson, "It's that time of year for football, getting back into the rhythm and routine and getting ready for the regular season."
Johnson, like most Colts players, said the idea of the first team operating without Manning "will be weird."
"Every time I've been with the first unit, it has been Peyton, but I've had time with (backup quarterback) Jimmy (Sorgi)," Johnson said. "We trust in Jim, so I know he'll get a chance to show what he can do."
Said Wayne, "Hopefully, we'll get everybody back and focus on football."
Wayne said he doesn't believe it will take long to re-adjust once Manning returns.
"As long as his arm is good, we'll be all right," Wayne. "As far as his main targets, it shouldn't take too long. Hopefully, he gets back 100 percent and doesn't rush it. We'll be waiting. That's the least of my worries. I feel like he'll bounce back fairly quickly and be ready to go."
And Wayne said with or without a theme, he is very much ready to go. Although his attire wasn't unusual Thursday, something else was. Wayne, for the first time in memory, was sporting a full beard, which he said was very much a temporary look.
"It's my going-to-work look," he said. "It's going to be with me all through camp. I'll see how far it can grow. Hopefully, it will give me some luck."
He added, laughing, "ZZ Top, that's what I'm shooting for. It's a training camp thing. In the regular season, I'll chop it off."