INDIANAPOLIS –One of the more somber moments in the 2013 season was when Reggie Wayne went down with a knee injury in a home victory over Denver in October.
Gone was a player who had topped 1,000 receptions and 13,000 yards. Gone was a player who had played in 189 straight games and held the league record with 71 straight games with at least three receptions.
A quiet, but busy Colts locker room was brightened Monday when Wayne held court for the first time.
"The knee is great," said Wayne. "The knee is so-far, so-good, just moving forward from there."
Wayne had not missed any action since the 'Playoffs?!?' game against San Francisco in 2001, and missing the last 11 games (counting these playoffs) provided introspection.
"It really humbles you. It really does," said Wayne. "A lot of stuff in life you take for granted. This was a time for me to sit back and be appreciative.
"I was put in different role than I am used to, but it was cool. It was fun. (The season) didn't end the way we wanted to. We know we have a lot of work to do. Hopefully, next year will be a different outcome."
Wayne has been rehabbing daily, pushing the medical staff as hard as he pushed himself on the field.
"He was here every single day. He beat the trainers here all the time," said Pagano, who boldly predicted in October that Wayne would return to star for the Colts. "I'd hear it all the time that he beat those guys into the training room. He spent a great deal of time (rehabbing). He's way ahead of schedule."
While Pagano in the fall predicted a return for Wayne, Wayne did so himself Monday.
"I can tell you this, Reggie Wayne, as I'm speaking in third person, has never lacked confidence," said Wayne. "I'm very, very, very confident I can come back better than I was.
"One thing about this time, it was an opportunity for my body to heal a little bit. Hopefully, I stole a year, you know? We'll go from there."
One admission was the ordeal made it a challenge to keep his smile and easy-going nature.
"I want to be out there with my teammates," said Wayne. "I want to go out there and fight with them, especially when it doesn't end the way we want it to. It was tough, it really was.
"The way these guys went out there and grinded it out, it kept me sane, it kept me together. I was looking forward to watching those guys lay it all on the line (and) do the best they can possibly do. Knock on wood if all goes well, I'll be out there fighting with them again next year."
Wayne thrust himself in meetings and helping on game days. He was a voice of experience beyond the coaches and helped guide the younger receivers.
"You can't put a price tag on what he did for this team and organization after he was injured," said Pagano. "He spent (time) with the offense, in meetings, mentoring and tutoring.
"(With) what (WR Coach) Charlie Williams did and Pep (Hamilton) and the rest of the staff and the players themselves, you could see the development and growth of those guys as we moved past Reggie's injury."
The off-season program starts in April. Wayne will be here more than most teammates who use this time to get away from the fray.
Wayne looks forward to the re-joining fray and hopes for a continuation of his medical protocol.
"I haven't even looked that far," said Wayne when asked his projected return. "I'm really just taking it one day at a time.
"Right now, everything's going pretty well. As long as we don't have no setbacks, it should be when everybody else is grinding I should be out there grinding with them."
COLTS NOTES –The Colts have signed six players to Reserve/Future contracts, guard Zach Allen, center Thomas Austin, linebacker Alan Baxter, cornerback Marcus Burley, quarterback Chandler Harnish and tight end Martell Webb.