TERRE HAUTE —
While Reggie Wayne is the best receiver on the Indianapolis Colts roster, he goes into each game — be it preseason or regular-season — with a definite chip on his shoulder.
Wayne is one of the most accomplished receivers in franchise history. He has been named to six Pro Bowls and has played in two Super Bowls. Doesn’t matter. But the 13-year NFL veteran also knows that the letters NFL can also stand for Not For Long.
“First let’s make it clear, I’m always fighting for a spot. Every year they’re going to try to find somebody to replace me. Now it’s up to me to make that a hard decision. So I don’t go out there with the mind frame that I always got a spot sewed up because that’s when you go out and you loaf and then you got somebody else going out there 100 miles per hour,” he said after Thursday’s practice.
“My whole mindset is I’m out there trying to set the tone from what Reggie Wayne can do, no matter what the situation is. We all know what the truth is. This is a tough business. You’re not only going out there and playing for the Colts at this point in time, you’re going out there and playing for 32 teams. You want to go out there and put your best audition tape. You want to be able to put your best performance out there. If you don’t, you get voted off [the island]. It’s just like ‘The Voice’ or ‘American Idol.’ So you want to go out there and do the best you possibly can.”
Wayne might think that he has to fight for a job every day. First-year offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton, though, feels secure knowing that the former Miami Hurricane can be counted on.
“As a fan of the game from afar and over the years, you can’t help but notice that hey there’s a guy that’s been with one organization for over a decade. You don’t find many guys like Reggie that can survive the physical demands of the league as well as over time preparing himself both physically and mentally to keep his job and produce at a high level,” Hamilton said earlier this week.
“It’s been exciting just watching Reggie go about his work. Reggie, he is a pro in every sense of the word. The way that he prepares himself for practice, not just games, is something that hopefully our young guys are taking note of. He is one of the leaders of our offense and we’re counting on Reggie to be Reggie.”
• Not surprised — Chuck Pagano has known Wayne since the two were both in Miami, Pagano as assistant coach and the receiver as a recruited player.
Nothing the receiver does in a game, or a practice for that matter, surprises the Colts head coach. Wayne’s two impressive catches in last week’s Giants preseason game — a one-handed grab of a screen pass that was thrown slightly behind him and then a diving reception off a double-tipped pass for a touchdown — have become commonplace.
But there’s a good reason for that.
“It’s all about preparation. And if you notice those guys before practice, during practice, it’s happening after practice, they’re always working at their craft. Reggie’s one-handed catch on the little bubble screen we tossed out to him, he sits on the JUGS [machine] and he does everything,” Pagano praised.
“He frames everything up two hands, tuck it away, but then they’ll work on things like that. So you play like you practice and those guys put the time in and that’s why they’re able to make those plays. And that’s why it’s no surprise when they do make them.”
• Ruled out — Pagano said Thursday that offensive guard Mike McGlynn, tight end Coby Fleener (knee), tight end Dwayne Allen (foot) and running back Ahmad Bradshaw (foot) will not play Saturday night against Cleveland.
McGlynn, the Colts’ starting right offensive guard, suffered a bone bruise in his left knee during the latter portions of Wednesday’s workout.
“Mike McGlynn got hit on the knee yesterday in practice. Didn’t finish the practice. [The] MRI came back negative. He’s got basically a bone bruise in there but he won’t be able to make this week’s game. He’s going to be out,” the Colts coach said.
Backup offensive lineman Jeff Linkenbach will start in McGlynn’s spot. Linkenbach has experience as both an offensive guard and offensive tackle.
“The guy’s got four-position value. He can play both tackle spots. He can play the guards. He’s a really bright guy and understands everything that’s going on. You got to credit a guy like that,” the Colts coach said.
“He just comes in here every day, prepares and practices as well as anybody. He’s durable. He’s accountable. You can rely on him. So his versatility and position-wise really gives him a ton of value.”
Fleener, meanwhile, continues to rehab a sprained right knee, which he hurt in the first half of last week’s preseason win over the New York Giants.
“Fleener we’re going to hold, he won’t play. Dwayne Allen got significant reps this week but we’re not going to play him in the game. Bradshaw same thing, we mixed him in a little bit but we’re going to hold him [out],” Pagano voiced.
Also slated to sit out the Browns game are wide receiver LaVon Brazill (foot), safety Joe Lefeged (calf), cornerback Teddy Williams (quad), wide receiver Maurice Williams, inside linebacker Kelvin Sheppard (foot), rookie inside linebacker Josh McNary (hamstring) and outside linebacker Lawrence Sidbury (shoulder).
• Returning to the lineup — Strong safety LaRon Landry is expected to make his first start of the preseason for the Indianapolis defense. Landry had been sidelined for the final two weeks of training camp after injuring his left knee.
Rookie offensive guard Hugh Thornton will also play in his first preseason game. Thornton suffered a high ankle sprain during the final day of rookie mini-camp, which wrapped up two days before the start of training camp.
“Landry was back [Wednesday] and got good reps and the day before and today so it looks like LaRon’s going to be able to go. Hugh Thornton had a pretty good week. Ankle held up pretty good so we’re going to try to mix him in and get him some snaps,” the Colts’ coach said.
Inside linebacker Pat Angerer is also slated to play in his first preseason game.
“He looks really good. He’s in a great place mentally and physically. First time in a long time for him. He’s looked really good and we’ll get him out there. He’s another guy that we’ll keep a close eye on,” Pagano explained.
“I don’t think at this point it would be wise for a guy like Pat to go in there and play a whole half of football. If we can get him 15 to 20 significant snaps out there and get him out of there, that’d probably be great.”