Wayne recently met with Dr. John Uribe to get an update on his knee.
Here’s what Wayne said on the radio show:
“Full-throttle, we are doing everything football-related six months from surgery. I’m already a month and a half done basically. Right now, I’m not even looking to that. I’m looking to the three-month mark, and that’s where I’m able to do straight ahead running. That’s kind of what I have my eyes set on. I want to make sure at that three-month mark, I’m ready to go start running, no setbacks, and so far so good.”
Wayne has been a regular around the facility and at games, providing an extra opinion to offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton and to his fellow receivers.
Wayne also said during the show that he doesn’t think he’ll take part in the team’s OTA’s, but thinks he'll be ready for the start of training camp.
“Yeah, but I doubt if I’ll participate in them. I want to make sure that I’m right. I think training camp is more of an ideal approach. OTAs and stuff, I probably wouldn’t do that stuff if I was 100 percent healthy. I’ve got my goals. I’m breaking them down, and hopefully I can get “Comeback Player of the Year” next year. That’s what I want to get accomplished.”
At least that's the way it was envisioned when the season started.
Instead, it'll be a battle of two teams dealing with a number of issues when the Indianapolis Colts take on the Houston Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The Colts haven't beaten a team with a winning record since Oct. 20 and haven't had consistency on offense, defense or special teams in weeks. The Texans ... well, they've been a disaster this season. They are on an 11-game losing streak, benched their starting quarterback and fired their head coach.
ESPN.com's Colts reporter Mike Wells and Texans reporter Tania Ganguli weigh in on the two struggling teams.
Wells: Tania, obviously the big news -- really the only news -- to come out of Houston in the past week was the firing of coach Gary Kubiak. Wade Phillips takes over as the interim coach. Teams tend to rally around interim coaches or just shut them out. What do you think the Texans will do with Phillips?
Ganguli: I don't think they'll shut him out, but wanting to succeed for the coach was never a problem in Houston. They wanted to win the last Colts game for their head coach, who left at halftime in an ambulance. They wanted to win the following week in Arizona for their coach, who watched from home as he recovered from his transient ischemic attack. It's not a matter of wanting the win -- the process has gotten lost. Two weeks ago, the Texans made so much progress in fixing their issues and then last week they went to Jacksonville and completely lost their discipline, committing a franchise-record 14 penalties for 177 yards.
The Colts are now back on top of the AFC South. What was the mood like for the team upon clinching the division and a playoff spot?
Wells: It was a bittersweet feeling for them because they needed help from their good buddy Peyton Manning in Denver to win their first division title in three years. The Colts wanted to go into Cincinnati and win it by themselves so that they would be able to avoid getting it in the side or backdoor. That obviously didn't happen. But a division title is a division title no matter how you get it. That's how the Colts should look at it, especially since they were 2-14 just two years ago and many people thought the Texans wouldn't have a problem winning the division for the third straight season.
I'll be the first to say I picked the Texans to win the division this season. I'm sure there are probably a lot of reasons why they've been a major bust. But does one reason stand out more than others?
Ganguli: If I had to choose one, I would say the quarterback situation has been the biggest reason. It was completely out of the blue. A lot of people disagree with me on this, but I don't think Matt Schaub played poorly most of the time, it's just that pick-6's are such dramatic momentum swingers. Really, though, it's been a combination of a lot of things. If you look at their stats, you'd expect the team to have a much better record. After Schaub, they went through Case Keenum's learning process, which is ongoing. Kicker Randy Bullock had a rough start, which impacted the team's record. He has improved lately, but by then the Texans developed other problems, like the loss of four important players to injury: inside linebacker Brian Cushing, safety Danieal Manning, running back Arian Foster and tight end Owen Daniels. Daniels has a chance of returning this week. And of course, I mentioned the meltdown of discipline that led to what happened last Thursday in Jacksonville. That was a problem early in the season, but unusual for the Texans lately. They had four penalties in the previous two games combined.
I expected the Colts to be better than they are, too. Do you think this team has taken a step forward or backward from last season?
Wells: I thought the Colts had more talent this season but they wouldn't be able to duplicate their 11-5 record from last year. I was right about their record but wrong about their talent. Season-ending injuries forced the Colts to take a step back in the talent department. They're known for using the phrase "Next Man Up" when dealing with injuries. There really isn't a Next Man Up when it comes to replacing future Hall of Fame receiver Reggie Wayne, guard Donald Thomas and tight end Dwayne Allen. The Colts thought acquiring running back Trent Richardson would soften the blow of losing Ahmad Bradshaw and Vick Ballard. That hasn't been the case. Richardson's struggles since coming to Indianapolis have been well documented. So injuries and players not living up to expectations are the main reasons why the Colts have taken a step back
We talked about the benching of Schaub prior to the first meeting between the two teams in early November. Receiver Andre Johnson made Keenum look pretty good in the first half of that game. Has Keenum shown enough to prove he's worthy of being the team's quarterback for years to come?
Ganguli: He's had good moments and bad ones. I think the bad moments are fixable, but whether he'll be able to fix them remains to be seen. The end of this season is an audition for him just as much as it is for Phillips. He has to show he's learning how to read defenses and make better decisions. There are times when Keenum hangs on to the ball too long because his internal clock isn't quite where it needs to be yet. He is learning that sometimes it's better to take the checkdown. He's learning that turning his back on the field when a rush comes at him reduces his options. If he stops growing where he is now, he'll have a career as a serviceable backup. If he continues to improve, he has the chance to be a starter.
To wrap up, let's talk about the quarterback up there, which I know we have before. How would you assess the season Andrew Luck has had?
Wells: Two words: A struggle. But it's not Luck's fault. The offensive line has been inconsistent all season. The running game has been more poor than good. The biggest reason behind it, though, is because of the loss of Wayne. Wayne was Luck's security blanket and nobody has stepped up to help him out. Luck is good, but you can't forget that he's only in his second season and is still learning. Rookie Da'Rick Rogers had a breakout game against Cincinnati (107 yards) last weekend and believes he can be Luck's third-down go-to guy.
The same can’t be said for the Houston Texans.
The Texans began the season as Super Bowl contenders in the AFC with Denver and New England. They won their first two games. Then things fell apart. They've lost 11 straight games, benched their starting quarterback and last week fired their head coach.
"It's obviously a nightmare," Texans interim coach Wade Phillips told Indianapolis reporters during his Wednesday conference call. "It's been so many games and so close, and just not being able to make the one or two plays. It's not like we're getting beat by 20 points every game, so it's been very frustrating."
The losing streak and frustration are there, but the Texans indeed aren't getting blown out on a weekly basis. Each of their last seven losses has been by seven points or less.
"It's been tough," veteran receiver Andre Johnson said. "At the same time, we just have to keep a positive attitude and just try to keep moving forward. We put ourselves in this situation."
You would think playing at home against a vulnerable team, one that has lost 11 straight games, would favor the Colts.
That’s not the case, though. Go back to the first meeting between the teams, in Houston in early November, if you need proof. Johnson had 190 yards receiving in the first half and the Texans led 21-3 at halftime before quarterback Andrew Luck threw three touchdown passes to T.Y. Hilton in a come-from-behind 27-24 victory.
“Wade’s been in this position before,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. “Throw the records out. You look at their last six ballgames that they’ve played, they’ve lost those six ballgames by a combined point total of 28 points. And so we’re preparing as if it’s whoever.”
“You know what, they were productive in that football game and they gave us a spark in that second half,” Pagano said of Rogers and Brazill. “And so certainly they've earned a right to play more.”
Brazill played 42 snaps and Rogers was the field for 41 snaps, while Heyward-Bey played only 23 snaps. The Colts have just four receivers on the roster, so Heyward-Bey will continue to get snaps, just not as many as before.
Heyward-Bey had two catches for 23 yards Sunday, but he also another drop – his sixth of the season – on a third down in the first quarter.
“This [team] needs receivers on the outside to step up to open it up for T.Y. and [tight end Coby] Fleener,” Rogers said. “Hopefully we can be those guys to do it.”
If you're dreaming of a white NFL Christmas, I say bah humbug.
You sing, "Let it snow!" I say let it go.
For me, watching football played in the snow is abominable, as in snowman.
During Sunday's early games played in the Northeast and Midwest, it once more hit me like an avalanche why I have long wished every National Football League game were played in a climate-controlled dome:
I can't stand seeing the great game of football reduced to an unwatchable joke by snowstorms. Or driving rain. Or howling wind chill.
That's right, Frosty: I have long believed every NFL team should play inside, even in San Diego and Miami -- at least with a retractable roof. One day, I believe, every team will.
You harrumph and say, "We purists believe football was meant to be played in the elements!" Yeah, maybe in the late 1800s. Give it up, Trapper John. We have indoor plumbing now -- and indoor football that makes the wintertime experience far better for players and fans alike. What beats a Super Bowl in the Superdome? Why should "real men" and "real women" suffer frostbite to support their teams?
Trust me, you cannot love football any more than I do. I'd like to think I'm a modernized purist. I just want to see the greatest players in the world be able to prove who's best in perfect conditions. Please, let's lock out Mother Nature.
“No, no,” coach Chuck Pagano said when asked if he had a reaction to it. "We're still 8-5. And we've got the [Houston] Texans coming to town. And we won the division. So we got a lot of good things going on. Now we've got to catch the momentum, now we've got to catch fire. As Robert [Mathis] just said, we've got to 'strike the match' and catch fire and get the mojo going.”
The play was reviewed and referee Jeff Triplette reversed the call, giving the Bengals a touchdown and a 14-0 lead with 74 seconds left in the first half.
"It wasn't a correct call," Dean Blandino, the NFL's head of officiating, said on the NFL Network's "Total Access" on Tuesday night. "We made a mistake here."
An apology now doesn't do anything for the Colts. It's still a touchdown and more importantly, it's still a loss for them.
“Awesome,” Mathis said. “Too little too late, but we're not crying over spilled milk. We lost the game. Move on. It's Houston.”
That's a significant step for the offensive line when you think about how inconsistent the group has been this season.
“They did a heck of a job,” coach Chuck Pagano said. “There was a pressure here and there, but zero sacks. Again, pretty formidable front that we went against. Thirty-six sacks coming in, that group had. Coming off the game before I thought those guys really stepped up and did some really good things. Moving forward, it’s going to hopefully pay dividends.”
There may be some more changes along the line when they play the Houston Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday.
Rookie guard Hugh Thornton, who missed the Cincinnati game with a neck injury, returned to practice Wednesday, but starting center Samson Satele missed practice with an elbow injury. Mike McGlynn, who moved back into the starting lineup at guard, worked at center in practice.
The Colts had their best rushing game of the season – 184 yards – and only gave up one sack with McGlynn at center against San Francisco in Week 3.
The Colts are in a position of trying to gain momentum heading into the playoffs, so having a whatever-it-takes mentality would be understandable. But Pagano doesn’t believe a player should lose his starting job because of an injury.
So expect Thornton to start at guard and McGlynn to go back to the bench if Satele is able to play against the Texans. Joe Reitz wlll start at the other guard spot.
“I don’t think since we’ve been here, nobody’s ever really lost their job because of injury,” Pagano said. “So if a guy gets injured and somebody else goes in, when he’s healthy, he gets his job back.”
The Indianapolis Colts will gladly help out with that.
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton became the third player to win player of the week this season after facing the Colts when he took top offensive honors in the AFC.
He was 24-of-35 for 275 yards and three touchdowns in their 42-28 victory over the Colts this past weekend. Dalton also had an 8-yard touchdown run.
Dalton follows Arizona’s Carson Palmer and St. Louis’ Tavon Austin in winning the award after playing the Colts.
Palmer was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week after he was 26-of-37 for 314 yards and two touchdowns in Arizona's 40-11 victory on Nov. 24.
Austin put on a clinic on offense and special teams against the Colts on Nov. 10. He had four punt returns for 145 yards, including a 98-yard return for a touchdown, to be named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week after the Nov. 10 game. An argument could be made for him to win offensive player of the week, too, after he had two catches -- both going for touchdowns -- for 138 yards in the Rams' easy 38-8 win.
Be on the lookout for Houston’s Andre Johnson against the Colts this weekend. He had nine catches for 229 yards and three touchdowns in the Texans’ 27-24 loss on Nov. 3.
T.Y. Hilton followed that up with seven catches for 130 yards against the St. Louis Rams the next week.
But how things have changed for Hilton since then.
Opponents have taken away the best part of Hilton's game – his speed – by providing help to slow him down.
He’s got 17 receptions for 135 yards and zero touchdowns in the four games since facing the Rams. His seven yards receiving against Cincinnati last weekend was the lowest of his career when catching at least one pass.
“There’s a lot of frustration on a lot of faces around here,” coach Chuck Pagano said. “When you’re a competitor and you want to contribute and all those things, that’s what you expect. You want guys that want the ball and want to make a difference.”
Keying in on Hilton was easy for opponents to do because quarterback Andrew Luck didn’t have a second receiver to turn to. Darrius Heyward-Bey doesn’t need a defender to slow him down because he slows himself down with the inability to catch the ball, and LaVon Brazill got off to a slow start this season.
That’s why defenses have been able to use an extra defender on Hilton. There wasn’t any fear of anybody else beating them.
“Oh no, you can’t get frustrated,” Hilton said. “When it’s my time to make a play, I’ll make a play. But I’m seeing double teams. Sometimes they roll the coverage my way. It just means guys got to step up, which they did last game, so we’re moving in the right direction with that.”
There’s finally some hope that Hilton will have some help at receiver. Brazill and Da’Rick Rogers had the best games of their young careers against the Bengals. Rogers had six catches for 107 yards and two touchdowns. Brazill had three catches for 59 yards, two touchdowns and a run where he broke six tackles.
“It’s huge,” Luck said. “I think the wide receiver room is great. They realize it’s such a team effort, such a group effort for getting each other open. So when DHB [Heyward-Bey] and LaVon and Da’Rick and even the running backs and the tight ends, it helps a guy like T.Y. get going. We know T.Y. is a special, special playmaker. I think anybody who has watched the last couple seasons realizes that. So hopefully we can all get on the right track.”
INDIANAPOLIS -- The NFL's head of officiating said on Tuesday that referee Jeff Triplette made the wrong call when he reversed a play in the second quarter of Sunday's game between the Indianapolis Colts and Cincinnati Bengals.
"It wasn't a correct call," Dean Blandino, the league's head of officiating, said on "Total Access" on the NFL Network. "We made a mistake here."
The Bengals had the ball fourth-and-goal at the Colts 1-yard line, when Indianapolis defensive tackle Josh Chapman tripped running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Green-Ellis stumbled to the ground and the officials ruled that he was down short of the goal line.
The play was reviewed and Triplette reversed the call, giving the Bengals a 14-0 lead late in the second quarter. Chapman said after the game Sunday and again on Monday that there was no doubt in his mind that he touched Green-Ellis.
Rogers’ talent and immaturity went hand-in-hand for him when he played for the Volunteers. He led the SEC with 67 receptions for 1,040 yards during his sophomore season at Tennessee.
“I always said he reminded me of Terrell Owens,” said Baggett, who was the receivers coach at Tennessee. “He’s a big, strong physical receiver with talent like T.O. But he made some bad decisions. He wanted to showboat, he wasn’t as good of a team player that he could be.”
The better the Indianapolis Colts receiver played, the more he moved into the spotlight. Some 18- and 19-year-olds can handle the fame. Rogers wasn’t one of them.
Substance abuse problems. Maturity issues. Dismissed from the football team.
That’s when Rogers became known as the talented but immature kid.
“When you’re young and you have a little bit of success, sometimes you don’t know how to deal with it,” Rogers said. “I did some things wrong in the past, but with that being said, I had to learn from what I did.”
Rogers suddenly had nowhere to go. He was talking to coach at Calhoun High School (Ga.) when the conversation of transferring to Tennessee Tech came up.
Tennessee Tech isn’t in the SEC. It’s not even a Football Bowl Subdivision school. It’s a Football Championship Subdivision school located in Cookeville, TN.
That’s a long way from playing in The Swamp in Gainesville, Fla., or at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn.
Tennessee Tech coach Watson Brown knew he was taking a risk since they don't routinely accept transfers. Rogers' talent was too good to pass up, though. He met with the seniors on the team and then they voted as a team whether to allow him to be a part of the program.
“The Tennessee situation affected Da’Rick more than people realize because he’s not the kind of person to show his hurt,” said Mike Garigan, a mentor of Rogers. “He knew he had to get back to playing football. One of Da’Rick’s problems was that sometimes he thought his way was better than anybody else’s. Before he matured, he was set that his way was better.”
Rogers caught 18 passes for 303 yards in a game against Southeast Missouri State and finished with 61 catches for 893 yards and 10 touchdowns despite playing a portion of the season with a hip pointer in his lone season at Tennessee Tech.
Rogers skipped his senior season to enter the draft. He had one of the best overall performances at the combine but the draft came and went without his hearing his name called because of his checkered past.
“The kid would have been a first-round draft pick if he would have done what he was supposed to do,” Baggett said. “I’ve been around for 35 years and coached a lot of good players. I knew he had talent and I knew if he developed and got his mind together the sky was the limit for him.”
Fourteen teams reached out to Rogers’ agent about signing with them. He ended up signing with the Buffalo Bills before they released him in late August. Rogers worked out for the Miami Dolphins before the Colts signed him to their practice squad on Sept. 2.
The list of receivers Baggett coached during his 35 years in the NFL and college ranks include Randy Moss, Cris Carter and Plaxico Burress. He puts Rogers near the top in terms of intelligence.
"He’s the smartest football player I’ve ever coached besides Cris Carter,” Baggett said. “Cris Carter was the smartest as far as studying and knowing game and understanding the game. If Da’Rick learns to study the game, he’ll be the smartest football player on the Colts.”
The buzz around Rogers continued to circulate as the weeks passed, but the Colts slowly brought him along, not wanting to overwhelm him with learning the system. The fire in Rogers burnt even more when future Hall of Famer Reggie Wayne went down for the season with a torn ACL.
“It ate me up daily,” Rogers said. “But it made me go to practice every day and put in the extra work to get back on the field and show what I can do for this team.”
The Colts moved Rogers to the active roster for good Nov. 11. It wasn’t until the game Dec. 1 against Tennessee that he was activated for a game. The coming-out party happened last weekend against the Cincinnati Bengals and after Darrius Heyward-Bey dropped down the depth chart.
Rogers had six catches for 107 yards, two touchdowns and a dance in the end zone that he knew he would do when he scored his first touchdown. He's the first rookie to have at least 100 yards receiving and two touchdowns in a game this season.
Rogers’ phone was full of text messages after the game. Coach Brown at Tennessee Tech, Baggett, his agent, his mother and Garigan were just a handful of many people who reached out to him.
“It was a finally-made-it dance,” Rogers said. “That was a little something I do in the club. I never doubted myself. I always felt like I could bounce back. Being so young, everybody makes mistakes. I’d get a second chance was the way I always approached it. Just wanted to make sure I got it and take advantage of it.”
There could be plenty more opportunities for Rogers in the future if he continues to progress the way many in the organization believe he can. Wayne is 35 years old and has to prove he can return to form following ACL surgery. T.Y. Hilton is the only other receiver who will certainly be brought back next season.
Now it’s up to Rogers to prove he can handle his on-the-field success off of it. His inner circle constantly reminds him to avoid temptations.
"That's his biggest challenge," Baggett said. "Do that and he'll make the Colts happy because he's going to produce on the field."
Preseason: 10 | Last week: 9 | ESPN.com Ranking since 2002
The Colts continued their trend of win a game, lose the next when they were beaten by Cincinnati on Sunday. They've maintained that pattern for the past six weeks. So in keeping with tradition, Indianapolis dropped in this week's Power Rankings. They haven't beaten a team with a winning record since defeating the Denver Broncos on Oct. 20. Quarterback Andrew Luck still has yet to lose back-to-back games in the NFL. He'll look to keep that record perfect when they host the Houston Texans on Sunday. The Colts are probably set as the No. 4 seed and will face the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC playoffs, so they'll use the final three games to try to find some kind of rhythm with the running backs and receivers on offense and improve their struggling defense. The Colts and Chiefs play Dec. 22 in Kansas City.
Here's how the voters ranked the Colts:
Ashley Fox: 10
Mike Sando: 14
Kevin Seifert: 11
John Clayton: 11
Dan Graziano: 11
Jamison Hensley: 10