Reggie Wayne is going to go down as the second greatest Colts wide receiver in history. He is a hero to Colts fans but has struggled recently in the final year of his contract.
Sunday’s win over the Jaguars featured an odd moment towards the end of the game. Wayne had an arbitrary streak of 81 games with three receptions or more and Chuck Pagano decided to keep that alive by forcing a couple late passes his way. Two easy passes extended said streak to 82 games, and Pagano had no regrets.
“I called the play,” Pagano said. “I made the decision. Those guys go run the play. Reggie would never come up to me – nobody on our team would ever come up to me (and ask for targets). They just want to win football games. So, do I have any second thoughts about what I did? Nah.”
Pagano went on to say that Wayne is entitled to everything he gets due to his years of service.
“We’re talking about a player who’s played at a very high level for 14 years now, and given and represented this city and this organization as good as anybody,” Pagano said. “So, Reggie’s earned everything he gets. I don’t think there would be one person who would argue my decision and what I decided to do.”
Equally odd about the situation was that Wayne was apparently nowhere to be found following the game. Gregg Doyel of the Indianapolis Star spent a full column on the subject.
Fans don’t seem to care about the late passes to Wayne, but his reaction might say a lot. Wayne rarely shies away from the meda but it could have been more than the forced passes. He let a couple easy ones go during the game and its clear he’s struggled in recent weeks.
Wayne, at 36, has lost a step after tearing his ACL last season and he hasn’t been free from injury this season either. He missed the Steelers game with a strained elbow.
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Wayne was injured in the first quarter of the Bengals game. He had two targets and a reception for nine yards prior to hurting his arm, but stayed in the game. He has essentially played 3.75 since the injury and there was also a bye week in that time to heal up.
Since the elbow injury, Wayne’s catch rate has dropped from 62-percent down to 44-percent. He’s also averaging a reception less per game and a difference of 20 yards.
He admitted that he’s less than 100-percent health wise, but Wayne might be feeling not only the frustrations of injury, but getting older. At 36, he’s the same age as Marvin Harrison when he choose to retire.
Wayne’s place in Colts history is already cemented, but he still has five games left this year. There is also the possibility that he could sign another short term contract after this season to extend his career.
Wayne’s already played for a season longer than Harrison, yet he’s still playing catchup. Wayne is within striking distance of Harrison’s receptions (46) and yards (409) but he won’t come close to Marvin’s 128 touchdowns.
But Wayne doesn’t just show up on the Colts all-time list. He’s seventh in NFL career receptions, just 22 behind Terrell Owens. Wayne is also eighth all-time in receiving yards and 22nd in touchdowns.
Sometimes players get to retire on their own terms, and others have that decision made for them. With the recent rash of injuries, the Colts Ironman might be ready to hang it up and his robust career should ensure his eventual enshrinement in Canton.