At 35 years of age and recovering from a torn ACL, many are starting to question the longevity of Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne. Having played in every game since his 2001 rookie year, Wayne’s season was cut painfully short during the Week 7 matchup against the Denver Broncos with an awkward fall resulting in a serious knee injury requiring surgery. Grooming a young draft prospect would be the logical procedure in finding Wayne’s successor; however, an early season pickup this year may provide the solution to the Hall of Fame-bound veteran’s eventual retirement.
Undrafted prior to the 2013 season, Da’Rick Rogers would sign with the Buffalo Bills only to be released at the end of August before the start of the regular season. While there has never been any doubt regarding his playing ability, off the field issues plagued Rogers’ college career and looked to have done the same during his short stay with the Bills.
The Colts offered Rogers a second chance, signing him to the practice squad six days before the season opener against the Oakland Raiders. Despite making a strong impression with the Colts’ training staff, Rogers wouldn’t see any real game time until Week 14 when Indianapolis would make the short trip to Paul Brown Stadium to face the Cincinnati Bengals. The Colts would lose the game, but the standout performance of their young wideout would go some way in allaying any fears regarding the Colts’ diminished receiving corps.
Rogers would lead the team with six catches for 107 yards and two touchdowns, indicating that he has all the qualities required to succeed in the NFL, provided he can eliminate all negative extracurricular activities from his personal life. He would go on to play a key role in the Wild-Card Weekend comeback over the Kansas City Chiefs, hauling in a 46-yard pass from quarterback Andrew Luck early in the third quarter with Indianapolis down 28 points.
Of course, every Colts fan wants Wayne to return next season and all signs point to that happening, but nurturing a young talent like Rogers can be beneficial in both the short and long term. With Darrius Heyward-Bey unlikely to return in 2014 Rogers could fill that vacant roster space and continue to develop in preparation for his bigger role alongside T.Y. Hilton when Wayne eventually decides to hang up his cleats.
Find more articles by David Lewis here.