For the second half of the 2013 season Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne was relegated to a coach-like duty instead of being on the football field catching passes like normal. He's ready to get back to on the field.
In 2013 Wayne went down in week seven with a torn ACL and missed the remainder of the season. Making the media rounds this past Tuesday, Wayne told Colts.com's Kevin Bowen that, "I am ahead of schedule. I feel great. I couldn't be happier than where I am right now. Everything seems to be going at a great rate." In fact, Wayne said that he hopes to be cleared for football activities on April 25th, just six months after tearing his ACL.
The Indianapolis Star's Mike Chappell spoke to Vikings running back Adrian Peterson on a conference call a few days ago and asked him about Reggie Wayne recovering from his injury. Of course, Peterson made an incredible comeback after tearing his ACL in December of 2011 and then started the season opener the following year, finishing just 9 yards short of the all-time single season rushing record in NFL history. In other words, Peterson knows a thing or two about recovering from a torn ACL.
He told Chappell that, "my expectations of Reggie Wayne (are) for him to come back and be just as good or even better. Why I say that is he's now in a position where age is a factor, or so they say. He has something to prove.'" He also added that, "I don't really know Reggie Wayne like that. I've been around him a couple of times. Just being a fan of his game and his work, I would hope he has a mindset that, 'Hey, this is a challenge for me. I'm gonna work hard and I'm gonna come back and be better than I was before.' But I know it's going to take a lot of hard work. Just proving what he's been able to do over the years that (at) 36 I don't see it being too much of a challenge for him."
For a while when fans would ask about Reggie Wayne and I would say that he should be back for training camp, they would doubt it and say that was wrong. But Reggie himself is planning on being ready for training camp and hopes to be cleared for football activities in as little as two weeks.
Wayne, 35, certainly faces an uphill climb. He has worked as hard as possible and then some to recover from the injury and there is no doubt that he will return to the field for the Colts. But at his age and coming off of a torn ACL there are legitimate questions about how effective he will be. In seven games in 2013 Wayne caught 38 passes for 503 yards and 2 touchdowns, serving as the security blanket for Andrew Luck and always being there to make a crucial play. In his career, he has three 100+ catch seasons, eight 1,000+ receiving yard seasons, and four 10+ touchdown reception seasons. He is a border-line Hall of Fame player, but there is no guarantee that he will return to that form. Colts fans are especially wary because of how quickly Marvin Harrison dropped off, after a knee injury as well. Harrison's drop-off does not in any way mean that Wayne will too, but it has contributed to Colts fans being extra cautious about Wayne.
Wayne's biggest strength has long been his route running, as he is the best route runner in football, and his ability to cut in and out of the defense on routes. A surgically repaired ACL can certainly result in that being diminished a bit, but that remains to be seen. For now, Wayne expects to be cleared in two weeks on April 25th and is absolutely planning on being at training camp at Anderson University in late summer.
On Friday, April 18th, Wayne will host "An Evening with Reggie Wayne and Friends" live at Dunaway's in downtown Indianapolis, an event for charity to help fight against cancer. For more information on the event or on how to purchase tickets, head here.