The Herald Bulletin

April 23, 2014

Colts notebook: Few doubts about Wayne in locker room

The Herald Bulletin

---- — INDIANAPOLIS — Last week, Reggie Wayne said he's using "naysayers" in the media as motivation during his rehabilitation from a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

The 35-year-old wide receiver has 1,006 receptions for 13,566 yards and 80 touchdowns over 13 professional seasons. He's a six-time Pro Bowl selection and one day might have a spot in the Hall of Fame.

If there are outside doubts about whether he can return to that form because of his age and the severity of his injury, few are shared inside the Indianapolis Colts' locker room.

"I think there are exceptions to every rule," third-year quarterback Andrew Luck said. "I think Reggie Wayne is an exception to a lot of rules. We know he's going to come back and produce at a very high level, and we're all very excited about it."

Former New York Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks was signed to a one-year deal in part to provide insurance against another setback for Wayne. But his name can be added to the list of those predicting a full comeback for the veteran receiver.

"He's working while we're working," Nicks said. "He's always still one of the first ones here. So I think, from that aspect, he's not losing anything. It's just a matter of when he can get back on the field and pick up where he left off at."

Third-year wide receiver T.Y. Hilton became a star in Wayne's absence last season. He caught 82 passes for 1,083 yards and five touchdowns during the regular season, then set franchise records with 13 recepetions and 224 yards in the playoff victory against Kansas City.

A healthy return by Wayne and the addition of Nicks could cut into his production, but Hilton is excited about the possibilities.

"We're a team," he said. "So when one guy is having fun, then we all have fun. As long as we're winning and doing the right things, we should be good."

Speaking of offensive weapons ...

Third-year tight end Dwayne Allen has been cleared for all football activities after suffering a season-ending hip injury during a Week 2 loss against Miami.

He was at the White House on Monday for the 136th annual Easter Egg Roll, but he sounds even more excited about the revived offense he's set to return to.

"On paper, we look great," Allen said. "I'm very excited. I'm really eager to get us all out and together and moving around to see how well we mesh together and see what different combinations the coaches come up with to put on the field."

Next Man Up

Da'Rick Rogers showed flashes of his potential last season — catching 14 passes for 192 yards and two touchdowns in five late-season games.

Rogers chose Indianapolis after being released by Buffalo in part because he believed the organization's winning tradition would help him find his footing in the league. The addition of Nicks during the offseason only added to that feeling.

"He just comes in and gives us another perspective that I, myself, coming into my second year haven't had," Rogers said. "I've had Reggie, and now I have another 1,000-yard receiver, another guy that's been to a Super Bowl, won a Super Bowl. So it's more of a brain to learn from."

Center of attention

Khaled Holmes found himself surrounded by a sizable media contingent at his locker Wednesday. The second-year center will compete for the starting job this fall despite appearing in just four games last year.

He motioned toward his audience with widespread arms and welcomed the challenge ahead.

"You've got to embrace every aspect of it," Holmes said. "So I look forward to it. I've got to get used to it and just grow in every way."

Prime time players

The Colts will play five prime time games in 2014, including a blockbuster season Sunday Night Football opener at Denver on Sept. 7. The home opener will take place Sept. 15 against Philadelphia on Monday Night Football.

Indianapolis also plays a Thursday night game at Houston on Oct. 9 and a second Monday night game at the New York Giants on Nov. 3. New England visits Lucas Oil Stadium for Sunday Night Football on Nov. 16.

The schedule also features the first regular-season clash between Luck and Robert Griffin III — the top two picks in the 2012 NFL draft — when Washington visits Nov. 30.