The Indianapolis Colts made a lot of tough decisions during the offseason. They made the decision to let Peyton Manning go and draft Andrew Luck with the No. 1 overall pick. They also cut some important players, including Joseph Addai, Dallas Clark, Gary Brackett and Melvin Bullitt.
Of the remaining veterans on the team, the one Colts fans least expected to return was Reggie Wayne. Wayne was ready to be an unrestricted free agent, and with the departure of Manning and the release of so many players, it felt like the organization was completely cleaning house.
However, just days before Wayne entered free agency, he received calls from both Chuck Pagano and Jim Irsay asking him to come back. He ended up signing a three-year deal with the Colts, giving them at least one veteran option on the offense.
Coach Pagano and Wayne had previously had a history together at the University of Miami. Wayne was a freshman at Miami when Pagano was the receivers coach. Their connection helped convince Wayne to stay with the Colts.
Wayne has spent his entire NFL career with the Colts, and his career has been one of the most impressive in Colts history. In his 12 years, he has made 950 receptions for 12,864 yards and 76 touchdowns.
While the Colts added some other options to the passing game, including Coby Fleener, Dwayne Allen and Donnie Avery, Wayne was vital in getting the offense to move forward early in the season.
With the arrival of a new quarterback in Andrew Luck, the Colts were hoping that they would provide enough options for him to throw to. With the amount of pressure that Luck faced early on in the season, he began to see Wayne as his go-to option under pressure. With some incredible catches by Wayne, including an unbelievable reception against the Green Bay Packers, Luck's trust in him grew quickly.
With the trust built between Luck and Wayne, Luck became confident thrower, finding other options downfield. Players including Avery and T.Y. Hilton have found themselves in the end zone more than expected thanks to the confidence of Luck and the presence of Wayne.
Despite most defenses' attention going to Wayne, he has still had a very productive season. Through just the first 12 games of the year, Wayne is already at 88 catches for 1,156 yards and three touchdowns. After a disappointing previous season, Wayne has turned it around with Luck throwing to him.
Wayne has been one of the biggest advocates for CHUCKSTRONG, due to his previous relationship with Pagano. From his encouragement of players shaving their heads, to the orange gloves worn during the Packers game, his support has been obvious throughout the season and has encouraged other players to be supportive. This unfortunate series of events for Pagano has caused the team to come together, and they've played with the most heart in the NFL this year.
Wayne's leadership has helped inspire the team to play well. With the playoffs in sight and the Colts winning six of their last seven games, it's quite safe to say that Wayne has been one of the main reasons for the Colts' success.