It’s become a tradition, of sorts, for the Indianapolis Colts.
On move-in day, when players are scheduled to report for the start of training camp, wide receiver Reggie Wayne usually tries to find a new and different way to make an entrance. One year, when camp was conducted at Rose-Hulman in Terre Haute, he arrived — alongside former Colts running back Edgerrin James — in an Indianapolis cab.
A couple of years later, Wayne showed up wearing a hard hat while being chauffeured in a cement truck. So when the Colts were slated to start the team’s 2012 training camp, most observers figured that the 12-year veteran would have something special up his sleeve this time around.
He certainly didn’t disappoint.
When Wayne arrived Saturday morning at Anderson University, he was wearing camouflage fatigues and accompanied by soldiers from the Indiana National Guard Recruiting Command and the 38th Indiana Aviation Command.
His mode of transportation to camp, by the way, was in a convoy of three military Humvees. Upon extricating himself from one of the vehicles, Wayne saluted the assembled media and declared himself ready to start work.
But before talking about preparations for the Colts’ upcoming season, however, he preferred to show some attention to the men who accompanied him to camp.
“It’s time for us to take a picture from these guys, who are selfless workers and put it all on the line,” Wayne explained. “That’s exactly what we are going to have to do this year. This is us supporting Colts nation. These guys do a great job of supporting this country. The only thing we have to do is support Colts nation. So if they can support a whole country, we should be able to take care of it from our end.”
Wayne shocked a lot of outside observers when he re-signed with Indianapolis during the offseason. With all the roster moves by the team this past spring — most notably the loss of quarterback Peyton Manning, tight end Dallas Clark, and running back Joseph Addai — it was thought that he would opt to play out his career with a team closer to making a strong post-season run.
But that wasn’t the case. With the Colts drafting quarterback Andrew Luck as Manning’s long-term replacement, Wayne is now a respected veteran leader in the locker room, along with outside linebackers Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, and safety Antoine Bethea.
“We’re in a phase where we’re rebuilding right now. We just need to have a whole different mind set and that’s being there for each other,” Wayne explained.
“One thing about our military is that they are always there for each other and have each other’s backs. And that’s what we have to do. We have to play Colts football, but at the same time protect each other. It should be fun.”
Before heading into the residence hall and unpacking, the Indianapolis receiver wanted to make one thing clear. He has a lot of respect for those people who serve in the military.
“I don’t want people to look at this [being dressed in fatigues] like it’s a joke. I fully support our military. I’m taking a page out of their book and I want our team to take a page out of their book. [Those who serve in the military] are the true heroes,” Wayne voiced.
“I thought about what we could take in our repertoire that people could see outside of football. I can’t get any better than the military. They are selfless workers, they are definitely there for each other and they go out there and make it happen no matter what the situation is. And that’s what we have to do. We have to go out and make it happen no matter what the situation is.”
n Luck clean-shaven and ready to go — The Colts’ rookie signal caller arrived at training camp on schedule Saturday. Gone was the scraggly beard that he has sported at times over the last year.
When asked where the beard went, Luck sheepishly voiced, “Away.” When asked if it might return at some point this season, he deferred by saying, “I don’t know. I don’t make definitive comments on the beard.”
As for looking ahead to the start of camp, which gets underway in earnest this morning with a closed practice, the No. 1 pick in the 2012 National Football League draft said that he is as prepared as he can be.
“Obviously, a little nervous, I think it’s good to be a little nervous about things. I’m excited to get going. Anxious,” Luck said, adding that the Colts’ three-day rookie camp — which began Wednesday and wrapped up Friday at the team’s West 56th Street headquarters — has helped to ease his transition to a training camp mode.
“It has been great. It’s always nice to get extra work in especially as a quarterback coming into a new system and having missed a couple of the [organized team activity practice sessions last spring]. So that was great. It’s nice to sort of go through the shock again of starting practice where the first day may be a little easier for the rookies now because we’ve been out there running and doing all that.”
As for knowing Indianapolis’ offensive playbook, Luck thinks that he’s getting a good handle on it.
“Getting there, I think you never can know enough. Practice reps will definitely help. Like I said earlier, I hope I just continue to improve playbook-wise every day.,” he said. “I think you get a little more sense of urgency because training camp is the beginning of the season really.
“So you understand there are games coming up. So I think you put a little more pressure on yourself to make sure you really are in the playbook and understanding the nuances of what is going on.”
n Arians impressed with Luck — Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians saw just enough of his new quarterback this past spring to wet his appetite.
Luck missed several workouts as he finished up class commitments at Stanford. But during those times when the rookie was in a mini-camp, Arians liked what he saw.
“Nothing bad. It’s just wow every day. I’ve never been around a guy who can learn that fast. I’ve been around guys who are extremely smart, worked extremely hard at it, but he just gets it. It’s kind of scary that he can. I have to watch that he and I don’t get ahead of everybody else, because his learning curve is so quick,” the former Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator said Saturday.
“Those young receivers, young tight ends, he’ll leave them in the dust. And I’ll leave them in the dust because I have a way of doing that myself with the quarterback. So we really have to guard that we don’t get in too much, too quickly and try to play at his speed. Especially in things like no-huddle.”