Two-Time Pro Bowl Receiver Wayne Focused Again on Improving
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – This time, Reggie Wayne opted not to change a thing.
Wayne, the Colts' eight-year veteran wide receiver, has improved statistically in each of his seven NFL seasons, and has done so with what he considers a simple – although not easy – formula.
Each offseason, he has worked harder than the last.
Sometimes, he said, that has meant altering his offseason workout schedule, starting earlier than the year before, or working longer. This past February, in Honolulu, Hawaii, for a second consecutive Pro Bowl appearance, he joked that perhaps the only way to improve on his first 100-plus reception season was awaken for offseason workouts a half hour earlier than normal.
Wayne reconsidered. With reason.
The past few off-seasons, Wayne has arisen at 5 a.m. for his workouts.
The idea of waking at 4:30 seemed a tad unnecessary, he said.
"I kind of stayed to the same regimen," Wayne said this week during the first week of Colts 2008 Training Camp, which will continue through August 15 at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.
"They say, 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it.' I did the same thing, just did it harder. You just find ways to make it even more challenging for myself.
Wayne added with a smile, "It's already a challenge getting up at five in the morning. That's a start."
As far as Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy sees it, Wayne needn't change a thing.
Since Dungy's arrival in 2002, Wayne never has missed a game, and has improved steadily each season, emerging as one of the NFL's elite receivers.
"Probably the biggest thing about Reggie, the biggest compliment, is he is one of those guys you don't worry about," Dungy said. 'You kind of pencil in 85-to-90 catches, 1,200 yards and 10 touchdowns and you don't even really think about it. Then you think about those numbers and realize that's a lot to take for granted, but that's what we expect and that's what he has delivered.
"We've gotten to the point where we don't even think about it too much."
Whether or not Wayne has been taken for granted at times, what he also has been throughout his career his productive in strikingly steady and improving fashion.
Each season he has been in the NFL, Wayne – the Colts' first-round selection in the 2001 NFL Draft – has set a goal to catch at least one more pass than he did the previous season.
So far, he has attained that goal.
After catching 27 passes in his rookie season, he caught 49 passes for 716 yards and four touchdowns in 2002. He followed that with 68 receptions for 838 yards and seven touchdowns in 2003 before recording his first 1,000-yard season in 2004, when he caught 77 passes for 1,210 yards and 12 touchdowns.
In 2005, he caught 83 passes for 1,055 yards and five touchdowns, then set career-highs in receptions and yards in 2006 with 86 receptions for 1,310 yards and nine touchdowns.
This past season, he surpassed his previous career-high by 18 receptions, catching 104 passes for 1,510 yards and 10 touchdowns despite the absence of eight-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Marvin Harrison.
"It's the same," Wayne said. "I'm still on the same track that I'm normally on. I try to get better each year. Now, it's made everything harder. I've got to have a whole total different mind frame of going out there grinding, trying to get it and beat the numbers I had the previous year.
"One more doesn't sound like much, but when you line up out there between the sidelines, it's a lot harder than you think. One more can be the difference between the Super Bowl and an AFC Championship loss. It's going to be a challenge, but if – knock on wood – I just keep healthy and playing football, I should be all right."
Remaining healthy hasn't been a huge issue for Wayne in his first seven NFL seasons. He hasn't missed a game since his rookie season, 2001, and he is the only Colts player aside from quarterback Peyton Manning to start every game the last five seasons.
Driving him each season, in addition to division titles and Super Bowls, has been his personal goal of improvement. And while that might seem particularly daunting this season, Wayne said in fact it doesn't seem too different.
"I do that every off-season; it's just that this year is going to be even tougher," Wayne said. "You've got a healthy (wide receiver) Marv(in) Harrison out there, so I'm not going to get as many balls as normal. There are no asterisks. I still have to go out there and do what I have to do to make it happen.
"Like I say, if I just stay healthy, who knows? Something may happen."
And while Wayne said he is motivated by the same goals as before, he also said he is well aware he is no longer a young player by NFL standards. Late this week, he was asked if he could believe he was entering his eighth NFL season.
He laughed at the question.
"It feels like 18 years," he said. "On my way here (to Terre Haute), normally, I'm getting it. I think I drove all the way up here at 55 miles per hour. But it's the same. It's the same thing. I'm blessed to have the same coaching staff and the same routine, so that's always good. It's nothing different.
"It's the same thing, coming out here, knowing what to do, getting the rust off and hopefully, when you get about three or four practices under your belt you won't have any problem."