What a difference a years makes. Just ask veteran wide receiver Reggie Wayne.
Eight weeks in the 2011 National Football League season, the Indianapolis Colts had yet to win a game. The Colts were coming off consecutive road losses to the New Orleans Saints (62-7) and Tennessee Titans (27-17).
In fact, Indianapolis didn’t win a game until Dec. 18 and failed to earn a trip to the post-season for the first time since 2001.
“I had a bad birthday [last season]. It was a terrible birthday [Nov. 17],” Wayne said Friday as he recalled what the Colts were going through a year ago. “It was rough, man. That’s part of the reason why me, [outside linebacker] Rob [Mathis], [outside linebacker Dwight] Freeney, especially me and Rob, why we came back.
“Our whole motto was just that we wanted to win now. We don’t have time to rebuild. We wanted to come out and win now. We had that nasty taste in our mouths for a whole season. So we didn’t want that no more. Hopefully we can get everybody to follow our lead. Just go out there and play Colts football.”
Fast forward to 2012. It seems as if that’s happened. With a home game Sunday against the Miami Dolphins, the Colts are 4-3 after a 19-13 overtime win at Tensnessee. And, believe it or not, Indianapolis finds itself smack dab in the middle of the AFC playoff chase once again.
“People like me, I see the light [the end of his career]. So I don’t have the time to sit back and rebuild and say I’ll be better next year. Or say in a couple of years we should be in the hunt. We need to be in the hunt now. We are in the hunt. We’re in a good situation. That’s why we want to continue to win games,” Wayne said.
The quick turn of events has caught a lot of people by surprise. But not Wayne and some of the other veterans on the Colts roster. Despite the massive roster shift since the end of last season, they all sensed something positive was occurring after going through the team’s spring organized team activity practices and training camp.
“Once I got to training camp and saw all the guys that we had around, and saw the scheme and things like that, I felt like we had some good things in place. We had some hungry guys, some guys that were eager to go out and make things happen,” he said.
“It all just worked out that. We got ourselves in a position that we’re doing okay. We’re not great. We’re just okay. But we know if we just continue to win games, we’ll be even better.”
I I I
n Injury list — Defensive tackle Fili Moala (knee), inside linebacker Pat Angerer (foot), inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman (foot), cornerback Darius Butler (shoulder), outside linebacker Robert Mathis (knee), outside linebacker Dwight Freeney (ankle), offensive guard Jeff Linkenbach (head/concussion symptoms), running back Donald Brown (knee) and quarterback Andrew Luck (knee) all fully practiced Friday.
Linkenbach, who was hurt in practice this week, still has to pass league-mandated concussion testing before he will be allowed to play Sunday. Offensive guard Joe Reitz will make his first start of the year on the left side. Reitz saw his first extensive playing time last week at Tennessee. He had been sidelined with knee issues since the start of training camp.
Cornerback Vontae Davis (knee) and rookie tight end Coby Fleener (shoulder) have both been ruled out of the Miami game.