Whenever a 35-year-old football player is rehabbing a torn ACL, you can't feel too comfortable about his ability to make a smooth, timely recovery. Knees undergo a great deal of wear and tear in just about any sport, often making them fragile. Unfortunately, they are also among the most important parts of the body in finding athletic success. Knee ailments have derailed plenty of careers in the past, and they will likely continue to do so in the future, albeit at a lower rate thanks to advances in surgery and medicine.
When Reggie Wayne - a 35-year-old wide receiver for the Indianapolis Colts - suffered a torn ACL in October of 2013, the assumption was that he would be able to recover and make an impact the following year. Having played 13 gruesome NFL campaigns, however, there was no certainty that Wayne would return to form. Wayne has been sitting out at OTAs as the Colts take it easy with their veteran pass catcher, so it was tough to say just how far along he is in his recovery.
On Tuesday, Colts fans got some good news from their head coach in regard to Wayne's injury status. According to Colts writer Phillip Wilson, head coach Chuck Pagano would be "shocked" if Wayne were not ready for training camp.
Wayne has reportedly been cleared for football activities, but the Colts are simply letting him be a spectator at OTAs. One of the savviest, most experience receivers in the league, Wayne won't be at much of a disadvantage by missing practices early in the offseason. It now looks like he is a virtual lock to be ready for training camp, and barring any setbacks, Wayne will be one hundred percent healthy for the first week of the 2014 campaign.
Wayne put up a monster 106/1,355/5 line in 2012 after a disappointing 2011 season. He continued to play well in 2013, as he was on pace for 86.8 receptions, 1,149.4 yards, and 4.6 touchdowns through seven games before suffering his devastating injury.
Though Wayne is unlikely to match the production from his last full season, keep in mind that this is a player who wins with savvy and timing just as much as athleticism. Wayne is a cerebral pass catcher who has a knack for getting open and possesses great coordination to haul in tough passes, and he should be able to continue to succeed with those skills despite his recent knee injury. It is perfectly reasonable to expect him to top 80 catches and a thousand yards for the eighth time in his career in 2014.
Wayne will be the No. 1 receiver in a deep, talented group of pass catchers. The Colts will have T.Y. Hilton and Da'Rick Rogers returning, while the team added Hakeem Nicks in free agency and Donte Moncrief in the draft. With Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener at tight end, quarterback Andrew Luck will have a chance to put up monster numbers thanks to his arsenal of weapons (as well as his own exceptional talents, of course).