Reggie Wayne, receivers 'keep marching'

INDIANAPOLIS — It’s a rare sight, indeed, in April.

Veteran wide receiver Reggie Wayne usually spends this time of year at his home near Miami, working out at his old stomping grounds at “The U.”

But there was Wayne last week, addressing reporters in the locker room at the Indianapolis Colts’ training facility. And he seemed just as surprised to be there as anyone.

“Right now this playbook is Greek to me,” Wayne said. “I don’t speak Greek. So I gotta be here to figure it out.”

Wayne is one of the few familiar faces still dotting the roster.

An 11-year veteran, he said he feels almost like a rookie again.

The Colts have a new head coach in Chuck Pagano, whom Wayne played for during his college days at Miami, and a new offensive coordinator in Bruce Arians.

The latter served as the quarterbacks coach in Indianapolis from 1998 to 2000. He left to join a Cleveland Browns staff that also included Pagano and later tutored Ben Roethlisberger for his first eight seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Some elements of Arians’ offense likely will be familiar to Colts fans.

His system includes some similarities to the attack Peyton Manning became a star in under long-time offensive coordinator Tom Moore.

But there will be plenty of differences, too.

“Every night I’m looking in my playbook feeling like I’m studying for the bar,” Wayne said. “I don’t know what that feeling is, but it’s got to feel something like this.”

Among the changes Arians is expected to install: A greater emphasis on the power running game and the moving of wide receivers around the field from play to play.

Wayne spent his previous 11 seasons in Indianapolis lining up exclusively on Manning’s left side. He even famously told quarterback Dan Orlovsky to “throw left” each day he walked past his locker after Orlovsky became the starter late last season.

Wayne won’t be saying the same phrase to Andrew Luck, the Stanford quarterback likely to be selected as Manning’s replacement in three days with the first overall pick in the NFL draft.

“Now, I’m moving around, thank God,” Wayne said. “Can you believe that? I am moving around. First time in 11 years, man.”

Wayne isn’t the only one. Austin Collie, used primarily in the slot during his first three NFL seasons, now will see more time on the outside.

He said he’s looking forward to the opportunity.

He also said there’s no reason to worry the Colts can’t get enough work done without Luck, or whomever the rookie quarterback will be, in the house.

Veteran Drew Stanton has organized throwing sessions with the receivers for the past two weeks, and Indianapolis begins a voluntary minicamp on Tuesday.

Collie said it’s essential the Colts make the most of their time together.

“We can get a lot done,” he said. “Starting to learn the playbook, and we’ve gotta get that done first before we get done anything else. Whether there’s a (rookie) quarterback here, or whether there’s not, that’s something you can do individually or do as a (receiver) group. That’s what this time’s for, and that’s what we’re working on trying to do.”

Pierre Garcon signed a big free-agent contract with the Washington Redskins and likely will catch passes from Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III next year. Anthony Gonzalez joined the rival New England Patriots as a free agent, and Blair White was released last week.

That will cut into the Colts’ depth at receiver, but there are some new faces on board as well.

Speedster Donnie Avery was added as a free agent during the offseason, and third-year man Quan Cosby will get a long look after joining the roster late last year. Undrafted rookies Jarred Fayson and Jeremy Ross also are in the mix after spending last season on other teams’ practice squads.

It’s a largely untested group, and more new faces could be on the way through the draft. But Collie said change isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

“Starting fresh is kind of nice,” he said. “New faces, new coaching staff, I think it kind of lights a fire under everybody.”

So should the words of pundits such as ESPN’s draft guru Mel Kiper. He said last week that Luck might struggle to “survive” with Indianapolis’ personnel, likening the Colts’ roster to “an expansion team.”

Wayne has heard similar dire projections, but he said the expectations inside the locker room remain the same.

“Nothing’s changed,” he said. “What’s supposed to change? Same intensity. Go out and win ballgames. Figure out the way to get it done. Do whatever it takes to win. Nothing’s changed. Still pro athletes. Still want to win. So keep marching.”

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