The biggest story surrounding the Indianapolis Colts going into their second preseason game against the New York Giants has been injuries. Injuries to center Khaled Holmes, rookie offensive linemen Jack Mewhort and Ulrick John, rugby-player-turned-linebacker Daniel Adongo and the (at least perceived) increased potential of injury to Andrew Luck.
Pushed aside in all of this has been the nearly-recovered injury of team patriarch Reggie Wayne. He’s said in no uncertain terms that he wants to “take his first hit” during preseason, rather than waiting for their opening game against the (angry and vengeful) Denver Broncos. He wants to play. He’s invoked the symbolism of boxing gloves (and, more recently, the Octagon) as a joking-yet-serious way to demonstrate his desires to the media, the fans and the ultimate decision maker, coach Chuck Pagano.
But maybe hold off on that “first hit” one more week.
This week’s preseason game against the Giants will be in Indianapolis, but next week’s game against the New Orleans Saints will be too. Next week’s game will be nationally televised on CBS. Several of the game tickets were sold as part of a package with a “finish on the field” run, so the crowd will be happy and full of endorphins. It will be an atmosphere worthy of a “welcome back” party for a guy fans thought they might never see play again.
There isn’t much of an advantage to playing Wayne against the Giants. Even if they think he’s ready to go, waiting one more week won’t hurt anyone. Actually, it gives the younger receivers extra chances to showcase their abilities, in case they don’t make the Colts’ final roster and might be able to find opportunities elsewhere. The Colts are estimating that Luck (and, presumably the rest of the first teamers) will play the entire first quarter this Saturday. The fourth preseason game is typically pretty “starters light”, though this year the offensive line guys might need extra snaps to get accustomed to each other.
I like the idea of giving Wayne one more week, starting him against the Saints in a festive atmosphere and then giving him most of Week 4 against the Cincinnati Bengals to relax. We’ll see if his boxing gloves agree with me.