By Nathan Brown
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. — After 12 years in the league, Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne knows a thing or two about preseason openers.
Sure, as one of the team’s core leaders, the game against the Buffalo Bills Sunday isn’t exactly for him to prove himself or showcase his talents, but the veteran said he prepares for games like these just as he would for any other.
“It’s business as usual,” Reggie said. “I think when you go into them any other way, bad things happen. Honestly, I take them very seriously. For the most part, standing next to you is a guy who’s trying to make a name for himself and trying to make a roster. He’s going balls to the wall. A guy like that you’ve got to take seriously.
“I treat it like a regular season game, and hopefully we can get in there, get a good drive going and get out.”
Wayne and his teammates have now closed out their second week of training camp, each day filled with a walk-through followed by game simulations during full-pads practice in the afternoon or evening.
Even though Wayne said the offense has done a fine job adjusting to the new schemes from first-year offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton, he said that nothing he’s seen in practice will be quite like real-time action in Lucas Oil Stadium with a large crowd of roaring fans.
Although many big-name players take game one of the preseason fairly easy, Wayne said he looks forward to the opportunity to getting readjusted to playing within the offense run by a second-year quarterback.
“I want to play enough to the point where I feel comfortable,” Wayne said. “One thing for me is hearing the calls from Andrew (Luck) in the huddle. It’s a totally different atmosphere as far as hearing those calls out in practice. I kinda wanna hear the fans around me and hear him making calls at the same time.
“Whenever they tell me to get out, I’ll get out. If they need me to stay in, I’ll stay in.”
Both Wayne and Colts quarterback Andrew Luck shied away from saying they look forward to getting knocked around a little bit, but with the Colts emphasizing tougher, stronger play this season, especially on the ground, Wayne may be called to lay down a few blocks or hits.
He said he and his teammates will be ready.
“I think our team is tired of seeing each other and going up against each other,” he said. “I think it’ll be a great opportunity for us to go and unleash a little furry on someone else.
“Whatever you need me to do, if you need me to turn 87 into 78, I’ll block. Whatever you need me to do, that’s what I’m here to do. I just want to do whatever I can to help this team win games. If it’s blocking or going across the middle or getting someone some Gatorade, whatever it is, I want to be good, and I just want to be the best at it. It’s the call of duty.”
And as the Colts gear up for the Bills Sunday afternoon at 1:30 in Lucas Oil Stadium, Wayne said he and his teammates are looking farther ahead with bigger goals in mind.
After a nine-win jump from the season before with a rookie quarterback at the helm, Wayne said the Colts hope to avoid a setback this season as teams begin to give them a little more respect and focus.
The Colts wideout said he makes his own private personal goals before every season, but what’s more important is what he and his teammates can achieve together on the field: a division title, a top seed in the playoffs and a celebration with the Lombardi trophy.
Preparation for that journey begins Sunday.
“I wouldn’t say the target is on our chest, but they know we’re coming,” he said. “Last year, I think a lot of teams looked over us a little bit cause we were so young, rookie quarterback and the situation with our head coach. I don’t think they took us as serious.
“I wouldn’t say we’re the hunted just yet, but we’re somewhere in the field, and that’s cool.”