Back in 2018, when Reggie Wayne was a volunteer coach for the Colts, general manager Chris Ballard gave him some words of wisdom.
"Just remember, these guys, they're not 87," Ballard told Wayne. "Everybody can't do what you do. That's why you were special."
Four years later, as Colts players filtered back to the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center for the 2022 offseason program, Wayne kept those words in mind.
"I never forgot that," Wayne said. "It made a lot of sense. And you just got to find out what everybody can do, what they can do best individually and keep that sharp and help them with everything else."
Wayne, who was hired by the Colts as wide receivers coach in mid-March, said he's put in plenty of long hours over the last few weeks – sometimes showing up to the facility before sunrise and leaving after sunset.
"I was always told that coaches were here all day every day," Wayne said, "and that's even true in the offseason, especially when you don't know the playbook like everybody else."
Wayne put in those hours so he could answer the "why" questions from his players – why do we do this in a concept, why do we run a route like this, etc.
"Reg has been great," Ballard said. "Reggie is going to be a good coach. Frank (Reich) will tell you, we've been on this with Reggie for a few years now and then finally the time was right for Reg.
"He's attacking it the same way he did as a player. He works. He's diligent, he's thorough. He's got a lot of knowledge to teach. He's got to grow as a coach like any young coach, but Reggie has got a lot of talent and I think he's going to be really good. I think he's going to be great for that room."
Wayne sees his wide receiver room – in which the longest-tenured members are Parris Campbell and Ashton Dulin, each of whom are entering Year 4 in Indianapolis – as having more upside than some may assume, too. He sees a group of young wideouts who are "hungry" and "probably feel a little disrespected."
And in that group now is rookie Alec Pierce, who the Colts drafted in the second round last week.
"He's tall, he's fast," Wayne said. "I can debate anybody about his college film as far as high pointing the ball and catching it up top. He was great at that. And everybody, I'm assuming, he was going up against one of the best if not the best corners in the league with Sauce. He's got work in. But I think he brings a little toughness, he brings so length, I think he'll be a pretty good player."
"Like a really, really bad breakup"
That's how running back Nyheim Hines described how he felt after the 2021 season ended with the Colts' stunning loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
"It's probably the most heartbreaking way we've ended a year since we've been here," Hines said. "I think last year was really – if we look back at 2021, you look at where we made our mistakes at, and you pick up the pieces.
"Honestly, it's like after a really, really bad breakup. You're hurt for a little while but actually when you move on and get to the other side, it feels a lot better. But I think that's kind of how it is. It's like a really, really bad breakup or marriage – doesn't mean we're done. People get remarried, people meet some other people and get happy, but we can't keep talking about last year. We just have to plan to have a better this year."