Colts receiver Reggie Wayne played a key role in the franchise’s greatness of the recent past, and he’s contributing to a quick turnaround. Unlike anyone else with connections to the pre-2011 and post-2011 Colts, Wayne directly bridges the gap between the two franchise quarterbacks.
In a Tuesday interview with Scott Pioli for Pro Football Talk on NBCSN, Wayne said he sees one specific trait in Andrew Luck that he saw in Peyton Manning.
“The way [Luck] approaches practice, I hate to do this, but it’s somewhat like a Peyton Manning,” Wayne said regarding the thing about Luck that impresses the veteran receiver the most. “Even though I hate to compare the two, he takes practice just like it’s a game. He knows as well as I do that practice is probably going to be harder than the games because you’re going to see it so many different ways. In game time, you may only see it once or twice.
“He gets us in and out of the huddle, he tells us to pick it up, he tells the offensive line, ‘Hey, we need to do better here.’ He tells the receivers, ‘I need you to come out a little higher’ or whatever the case may be. So he’s on it. Whenever your quarterback is doing that you know you’re in the right direction. So I’m glad to see him doing that.”
But that’s where the comparisons end, because Wayne doesn’t see the value in making one player play like another player.
“What I would much rather Andrew do is build his own legacy, whatever that is,” Wayne said. “Andrew, he can’t be a Peyton Manning. He can’t be a Tom Brady. He can’t be an Aaron Rodgers. Only thing Andrew can do is be Andrew so whatever you’re motto is that’s what you need to work on. . . . I like what I see. Well, actually, I love what I see in him. He’s going to be very good. He really is, and as long as we can keep him clean up front and the skill guys continue to make plays for him, he going to be the face of the NFL soon.”
It was never going to be easy to be the guy who replaced Peyton Manning, but the Colts under Andrew Luck have quickly turned the page, getting to the playoffs in his first year with the team.
Now, the challenge becomes taking it to the next level. Some think Luck and the Colts are ready, some think they’ll fade. Either way, the Colts went from irrelevant in 2011 to relevant again. In the end, they’ll likely have more than a decade of being a contending team on either side of the abysmal season that allowed them to land Luck.