ANDERSON –Reggie Wayne joined the Colts in 2001, Peyton Manning's fourth season with the team.
Wayne's 12th season in Indianapolis is the first for vaunted rookie signal-caller Andrew Luck. Wayne may be in a position to bookend a career with one of the game's best and one who could make deep footprints in the NFL.
Wayne himself has left a trail of quality production. In starting 160 of 173 career games, he has 862 receptions for 11,708 yards and 73 touchdowns, three 100 -reception seasons, seven 1,000 -yardage years, made five Pro Bowls, appeared in two Super Bowls and was a part of a world champion.
Wayne is one of three NFL players to increase a reception total over the first seven years of a career (2001-07) and one of whom he joined in that category is Hall-of-Famer Raymond Berry. It is Berry and future Hall-of-Famer Marvin Harrison who hold the club record (13) for the most seasons by a receiver. Wayne (12) is hot on their trail.
The number of seasons for Wayne makes him a senior member on a team that currently has 27 rookies and 41 total players with no more than one year of NFL action. It makes him a leader to the 10 other receivers in camp and throughout the roster. He notices guys ask questions and he does not mind dispensing advice, but he also is keeping up the work that has made his career flourish.
"Guys will come ask questions," said Wayne. "I remember guys were asking questions when I was here for only three years. It just comes with the territory. As I'm telling them, too, I said, 'Look, I'm a rookie all over again myself just dealing with the whole new offensive terminology and philosophy.' But at the same time, I guess they figure since I'm the older guy that I can grasp it a little easier, I guess. I don't know. It's fun, man. By them asking me questions it's keeping me on my toes."
Wayne has moved so quickly and studiously that grass never has grown between those toes. He now is learning a new offense under a new head coach, offensive coordinator and quarterback.
"There are some similarities. I'll say it's more different than it is the same, but that's football," said Wayne. "Once you ball down, and you really look at it, there's something that we're running now that I can always relate to the old offense. It's a copycat league. Somewhere in there you're going to find something that you've been doing, just different terminology. I just try my best not to get them confused. I've got 11 years of something one way and a few months of something another way. So it's going to take time, but we're getting there."
Wayne was attuned to Manning to the extent of 779 receptions for 10,602 yards and 67 touchdowns, making him and Harrison (12,766) the only NFL receivers ever to top 10,000 reception yards with a quarterback. He is busy right now synching up with Luck.
"It's (timing) huge. That's what makes or breaks us," said Wayne. "We are going to need to be on the same page at all times. Any mishaps can be a pick-six. That's what we are working on in one-on-ones. That's what we are constantly getting on each other about in meetings, about being in the right place at the right time.
"As a quarterback, you know where you want to throw the ball, but you're hoping the receiver gets there in time. It's going to take time. That's what we're doing now, so far so good."
Wayne rejoined the club this past spring after speculation had him going elsewhere. Questions quickly hit why he would return to a team at this stage of his career that many observers thought would struggle. Wayne reacted then that he did not concede anything competitively for the team's season, and he continues that mindset.
"Sit back, watch and see what happens. That's all I can say," said Wayne. "Some people say depleted, I say younger, hungrier. I mean, I love the teams of the past, but we know once we sign those contracts anything can happen. I wanted to be here. I wanted to help build this foundation and keep it going. Bring Colts winning back to the old winning days and just do some great things.
"We've got a nice young team, but we've got a hungry team. We've still got some OG's (old guys) at each position, take away the quarterback position. He's the first pick, so he's a baby OG. So we've still got some guys at each position that can lead the way and show the young guys what to do. So we're just going to take that and build off of that."
Some of the other camp receivers have made it a practice to track Wayne down in the locker room, dormitory or on the practice field to pick his brain.
"It starts off just by asking how I've stayed in the league so long, how I'm able to have so many consecutive games played without missing a game. Then it goes to on-the-field stuff," said Wayne. "It's kind of like I'm getting a Q&A for a job or something. Those guys, they want to know what it takes, and I love giving that information. The more information I can give them, I feel like the better they can be.
"I just want to see these guys continue to grow, continue to get better and continue to do great things. We're in the top of the crop, you know what I mean, so everybody that's here they're elite guys, so you want them to just take their level to the extreme. Whatever I can do to help them do that, I'm all for it."
Donnie Avery joined the Colts after four seasons with St. Louis and Tennessee. He is one of those guys hitting Wayne for tips.
"Of course, he has longevity in the league," said Avery. "Everybody, as a receiver, as an NFL player, everybody wants longevity. Just observing him just on the field and off the field, you know what he does to keep his body right. To make it going on 12 years that's awesome."