Wayne was the first round pick by the Colts in the 2001 NFL draft out of the University of Miami. The 6'0" 200 pound receiver had enjoyed a virtually injury-free career for the past 13 seasons, with a career 13,566 yards with 80 touchdowns.
That all changed last season, in a 39-33 October win over the Denver Broncos. Wayne was was reaching for an errant pass from quarterback Andrew Luck and ended up tearing his ACL in his right knee, ending his 2013 season right then and there. He ended the season with 503 yards and two touchdowns in seven games.
For the past six months, Wayne has rehabbed his injured right knee two or three times a day and made semi-regular calls to check in on teammates all for one singular goal: To prove wrong anyone who doubts he can return from a torn anterior cruciate ligament at his age, be the same player and lead the Colts to a Super Bowl. Wayne spoke outwardly to the media:
You guys say I can't do it. You say I'm 35, over the hill, that I can't do it. Hopefully, I can get you guys to sing another tune. I'm excited. I feel great. I hope they kind of let me loose a little bit. I know they're going to hold me down a little bit, which is probably the right thing to do. But you can believe I'm that dog that keeps jumping over the fence.Wayne expects the Colts to proceed cautiously in spring mini-camps, which begin next week at the team complex. Team officials are hoping Wayne will be ready for OTAs, and expecting him to be ready for the start of training camp in July.
|Jeffrey Beall via Wikimedia Commons|
Yet the naysayers are still asking, what will the Colts get from a guy who turns 36 in November and is in the final year of his contract?
A sure-handed 13-year veteran who is determined to prove he can still play the game at his level. Even though Wayne has still not been cleared by team doctors, he is not deterred:
It's been challenging, and I've taken it in stride. But I've used you guys as my motivation and I'm looking forward to coming back.Wayne is expected to be cleared to participate in OTAs on April 25th. Whether age, injury, or a lack of a new contract makes 2014 Wayne's final season with the Colts, he needs 97 catches to pass Marvin Harrison on the club's all-time receptions list, which would also put him third on the all-time NFL list.
Wayne is the face of the Indianapolis Colts, there is no doubt about that. As his 13th NFL season begins this fall, there is no doubt Colts fans will see #87 all over the field, just like usual.
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