INDIANAPOLIS – Indianapolis Colts receiver Reggie Wayne wakes up, climbs out of bed and doesn’t feel like his body has aged to the point where he needs to even contemplate how long he plans to continue his career.
"As soon as I start waking up on a consistent basis and my bones crack and ache and I put that window in there, that’s the day I should probably stop playing," Wayne said. "I’m just taking it one year at a time. I feel good now."
The drive is still there for Wayne every day.
All you have to do is show up for a training-camp practice and you’ll see the 34-year-old Wayne still on the field after some of his teammates have left for the day and he’s catching passes – low, high, one-handed – perfecting his craft on the Jugs machine. Wayne said during training camp that he prepares each offseason as if he's competing for a roster spot. That goes back to his days at the University of Miami, where you had to remain healthy and productive to ensure you stayed on the field.
"It was kind of mandated that the only way you came out of the game was if you got a bone showing [through the skin]," Colts coach Chuck Pagano, who was with Wayne in Miami, said. "Otherwise you stay in and play."
Wayne is humble enough not to say he’s the leader of the team. But he is one of the leaders based off how his younger teammates look up to him.
“I won’t say I set the standard,” Wayne said. “I’m not the only guy who practices hard. We have quite a few guys who do that. They may look at me because I’ve played longer, but we have quite a few guys who bust their tails each day. I was doing the same things back in my Miami days, way back then. That’s what got me going. It’s something you have to take pride in, and not everybody wants to go out there every day. You have to be disciplined to go out there and fight.”
Wayne isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. He has appeared in 185 straight games, the second-longest active streak in the league, according to Elias Sports Bureau, and he’s 15 catches shy of 1,000 for his career.
“Not really,” Pagano said when asked if he’s surprised Wayne is still playing at high level. “I’m screaming at him from the sidelines in those couple catch-and-runs [against San Francisco]. We talk about run after catch. That doesn’t apply to Reggie. I’m screaming to get down, self-preservation. That’s just the type of player he is. He doesn’t know any better.”
Wayne added, "I say it all the time, out of all the accolades I have, the one that means so much to me is being able to be out there every game day."
Wayne has 17 catches for 200 yards and a touchdown this season. He’s still the team’s No. 1 receiver but the days of having to shoulder the load should lessen now that the Colts have a legitimate rushing attack with Trent Richardson and Ahmad Bradshaw (when he returns from his neck injury).
“I’m in my 13th year, I’m not worried about my numbers,” Wayne said. “All I want to do is win.”