Last year against the Denver Broncos, wide receiver Reggie Wayne was having a great game until a pass from Andrew Luck was thrown behind the wide receiver. Wayne reached back but his knee got caught in the turf and ended up tearing his ACL. Indianapolis Colts fans were left with the image of Wayne being helped off of the field, as he did not play a down again that season.
This year in training camp Wayne has appeared to look like his old self. He was catching everything in sight and didn’t appear to hesitate when it came to contact. Stephania Bell, who is ESPN’s lead injury analyst, tweeted that Wayne looked amazing and that she couldn’t tell the veteran was returning from ACL surgery.
Watching him in practice today, would never have guessed WR Reggie Wayne is returning from ACL surgery. Looks amazing.
— Stephania Bell (@Stephania_ESPN) July 28, 2014
Now Colts fans have to look towards the future, and they are left to wonder what the veteran has left in tank entering the 2014 season. Even before the injury, Wayne was showing little signs of slowing down. He was on pace for 86 receptions and just under 1,200 yards. Both would have been just below his career averages. Now factor in coming back from injury and the signs point to Wayne having a down year by his standards.
There is reason for optimism with Colts fans. Wayne was never the kind of guy who was dependent on his speed to gain an edge on cornerbacks. He was always a great route runner and had great hands. He also has very underrated football IQ which is why he ended up being an effective slot wide receiver for the Colts once Andrew Luck became quarterback. He knows how to find holes in zone defenses and is always on the same page as his quarterback.
All of these are great signs for Colts fans if they are expecting to see Wayne turn to his pre-injury form. Expect Wayne to return to the slot position, pushing T.Y. Hilton to the outside where he can take advantage of his speed to beat man to man coverage. Wayne will probably not return to his original form, but that was always expected as he approaches 40 years old. But his style of play is going to allow him to be effective for this season at least.