INDIANAPOLIS – Just 32 catches shy of becoming the ninth NFL player with 1,000 career receptions, getting there is proving to be a matter of learning new tricks for Reggie Wayne.
This marks the second straight year Wayne (968 receptions, 13,063 yards, 78 touchdowns) has had to learn a new offense after doing it to start a career and then flourishing in it as he and the Colts went through a thrilling decade.
From 2001-10, Wayne was a staple in a Tom Moore offense with Peyton Manning as the triggerman, and he caught 787 passes for 10,748 yards and 69 touchdowns.
The 2011 season found Wayne playing with three different starting quarterbacks and last year, he met his second "franchise" player at that position in Andrew Luck.
Wayne learned a Bruce Arians offense and grabbed 106 passes – his fourth 100-plus reception season, one shy of the NFL record – and he exceeded 1,200 yards (1,355) for a sixth time, a total that ties for third-most in league history.
PLAYERS WITH 1,000 CAREER RECEPTIONS
No. of Teams
1 The most senior Colts receiver (34) is versed with Luck, but he is familiarizing himself with a new coordinator, Pep Hamilton. What does he know so far?
"One, he is not that much older than I am," said Wayne. "From what I understand, he's going to be well-prepared, he's going to have everyone ready to go. Just hearing that was enough for me.
"So far he's delivering all the messages the right way. Guys seem to be getting it, digesting it a little bit and going out there on the field and putting it to work."
Wayne spent a large part of last off-season in Indianapolis orienting himself with a new offense.
This year, he has participated in three OTA practices so far and has next week's mini-camp to join teammates in "putting it to work."
Wayne is in mid-stream in the learning process.
"I'm kind of in a tough situation learning a new offense, as you can tell," said Wayne. "Last year I was here a little bit more than I normally would be. This year I wasn't (here) as much as last year. I'm at home studying.
"Whenever I'm watching film at home and I feel like it's getting kind of weird to me a little bit, I need to come hear Andrew call a play, hear Pep call a play and sit in a couple meetings and just hear all the terminology. That's part of the reason why I'm here."
Wayne can canvass the locker room from his corner stall. A view of the landscape shows him 37 new faces this year, nine of which being receivers who are vying to join him on the roster.
Wayne is busying himself learning the new names and faces. One returnee, T.Y. Hilton, was not in Wednesday's practice, while a new one, Darrius Heyward-Bey, was absent, too.
There were others Wayne went through paces with and while he is learning the names, he, too, is figuring out the offense.
"It's going to take some time," said Wayne. "(It's) new terminology. So far, so good."
Wayne was a member of battle-tested teams earlier in his career that had their way with numerous opponents. Nine of his first 10 seasons were on teams that won at least 10 games.
Seven of those teams won the AFC South and one captured a Super Bowl. Last year's team, unheralded by outsiders, won 11 games. That is rejuvenating for a veteran.
"Last year opened my eyes a little bit," said Wayne. "A lot of people think since you've got a young team, you are not going to do so well. We were able to show a couple people what a young team can do, and I feel like we can do the same thing this year.
"If I'm not mistaken, we got like (37) new faces again. We just have to follow that same diagram as last year, and we have to top that one. I'm real excited."