Age will not slow down Reggie Wayne.
After the Colts released many staples of the Bill Polian era, the Colts unexpectedly re-signed Reggie Wayne to the surprise of many NFL analysts, however, Wayne quickly demonstrated that his talent and competiveness had not diminished. In 2012, he caught 106 passes for 1355 yards and five touchdowns –second most yards (Marvin Harrison had 11 more in 2006) and second most receptions (Jerry Rice had two more in 1996) for a 34+ year-old wide receiver. Reggie Wayne has all the tools to continue this success and just as he silenced his doubters last season he should be primed to have another sensational season in 2013.
Wayne is consistent, an ironman, and the bedrock of the Colts’ offense. He hasn’t missed a game since 2001 (his rookie year) and since 2004, Wayne has caught for over 1000+ yards each season, barring the lone 2011 season without Peyton Manning (Dan Orlovsky, Curtis Painter and Kerry Collins were under center). Last season, Wayne fearlessly dove for balls, became Luck’s most reliable target, and secured an NFL record with 64 straight games with at least three receptions. Even though the Colts’ roster is a year older and wiser, Reggie should remain the premiere target for the Colts in 2013 and the extra year should solidify Wayne’s chances of having another pro-bowl season.
Along with defending Reggie Wayne, opposing teams will have to worry about speedster, T.Y. Hilton (who caught 50 receptions, for 861 yards and 7 TDs in 2012), tight-ends, Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener and new acquisition, Darrius Heyward-Bey. Expect players like Heyward-Bey to have solid numbers in 2013 – Joe Montana certainly supports this prediction – but Reggie Wayne should see single coverage fairly often which will prompt Andrew Luck to deliver him the ball. Reggie Wayne and Andrew Luck demonstrated tremendous chemistryeven without having much time to prepare for 2012 season, and one can only imagine what will result from a full year of play plus an entire offseason.
The Colts offseason moves should allow Wayne to flourish. Colts GM Ryan Grigson spent both cap space and draft picks to bolster the Colts’ offensive line,which ranked 31st in 2012, according to Pro Football Focus. Adding free agents Gosder Cherilus, formerly of the Detroit Lions, to play right tackle, and former New England Patriot, Donald Thomas, to play guard, should certainly tighten Indianapolis’ o-line. Also, the Colts’ selected Illinois guard Hugh Thornton with the 86th pick as well as USC offensive-lineman Khaled Holmes with the 121st pick. Thornton will compete with both Joe Reitz and Jeff Linkenbach for the starting left guard position and although Ryan Grigson doesn't like playing rookie offensive lineman, Thornton has been viewed as a “sleeper” pick, and will provide some much needed depth.
Grigson is confident with the Colts new look at offensive line to protect its’ franchise quarterback and should allow Reggie Wayne to have another stellar season. Luck has demonstrated a keen ability to wreak havoc on opposing defenses, has shattered many rookie QB records – including some of his precursor, Peyton Manning – and with an improved offensive line, Luck should be even more poised in the pocket. This should provide more opportunities for Wayne to shag defenders, find an open looks, and pick up yardage.
Reggie Wayne possesses unmatched leadership ability both on and off the field which directly influences his ability to perform. During the Colts’ 2012 season, Reggie Wayne became a vocal leader in the clubhouse and encouraged the team to play #chuckstrong. Most recently, after NBA player Jason Collins came out, Reggie unequivocally stated that the Colts’ locker room would have no problem with a gay teammate. No doubt this kind of leadership drives the Colts’ to success and directly affects Wayne’s ability to keep playing at a high level.
Ultimately, the Colts’ offseason moves, the blossoming talent of the younger Colts’ offensive weapons, and Wayne’s leadership all point to one thing: Reggie Wayne has plenty of fuel left in the tank, is primed to have another signature season and will become the 13th wide receiver in NFL history, age 35 or older, to hit the 1,000-yard mark.