Reggie Wayne added milestones for his career Sunday, footballs for his basket at home.
All in another day's work for the Indianapolis Colts' 14th-year receiving wonder.
Wayne had seven catches for 119 yards – both game-highs – in the 41-17 victory over Tennessee, strengthening his status in the NFL record books.
He's now seventh in career receptions (1,029), 10th in receiving yardage (13,873) and extending his record of consecutive games with at least three catches (75). He's caught one pass in 123 straight.
Of course, by now Wayne has made it clear he's playing more for the enjoyment of the game, especially in light of last year's season-ending knee injury.
But he'll take two balls – one for catching a touchdown, another as an honor from his team – home to the pile of inflated leather he's accumulating.
Toys for the kids, he calls them.
"They're going to go in there at some point and say, 'Let's play catch,'" he said, smiling. "A lot of times I look at (the ball) and be like, 'Damn, this is my 30th touchdown ball.' But if they want to play with it, they can play with it."
Wayne played like a kid Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium, dancing around defenders, never more so than in the third-quarter drive that sealed the game. If his 21-yard catch wasn't good enough, his 17-yarder on third down was. Two plays later, he outsmarted cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson, pivoting to the left as he extended the ball to the pylon.
No matter that this was his 81st career touchdown; it was his first since the injury.
"A long time coming," he said.
Wayne remains one of the most confident players in this league, but he also realizes the realities of life. He doesn't have the speed he possessed as a first-round draft pick out of Miami in 2001. His body still has days when it requires an ice bath and a massage. But the challenge of overcoming the obstacles is part of the game's pleasure.
"There's quite a few things that are undefeated in this world; we know Mother Nature is one of them," Wayne said as his 36th birthday looms Nov. 17. "You're not going to win that battle.
"I do understand where I'm at right now, (and) I do understand I'm getting up there in age. That just goes to show you I'm going to have to watch more film, have to know my opponent a little better just to find ways to get open."
Having hands of gold helps. It's likely Wayne leads the NFL in that category, too, and listening to him frame a defensive back is worth all the money he's paid.
"He's not looking back at the ball, he's playing (my) hands," Wayne said of how defenders are taught. "I want to wait as long as I possibly can to stick my hands out there."
Colts quarterback Andrew Luck didn't know what else to say about No. 87.
"Open up one of y'all's tape recorders (and) replay the same things I say about him every week," he said. "He's a pro. He makes plays. He shows up in third down. He shows up in the red zone. Obviously, his hands are incredible. He's a phenomenal football player."
Luck finished by calling Wayne "a technician."
"For that reason I think he's an incredible role model for any young kid, any rookie," he said. "How do you work on your cuts? How do you work on body control? He sees coverage extremely well. He knows what (is) zone (defense), man (defense), where the blitz is coming from. He understands football."
"I won't say I haven't skipped a beat," Wayne said of his recovery. "I wish I was a lot faster; I wish I was a lot (of) everything. But this is what I have, and I'm going to play the hand I'm dealt.
"I have a pretty solid poker face, and I'm going to play; I'm not going to fold. I'm going to give everything I've got, and I think everybody in this locker room has some trust in me as far as going out there and delivering."
That why Pagano handed him a game ball. At this rate, more are on the way. The basket at home probably isn't large enough.