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INDIANAPOLIS -- Reggie Wayne wants to make this perfectly clear. When it comes to offseason throwing sessions with Indianapolis Colts rookie quarterback Andrew Luck, the travel edge goes to the veteran receiver.
“Believe me, he's going to make more trips to me than I am to him,” Wayne said with a smile.
Timing is everything as Luck prepares for his NFL debut and he needs plenty of it with Wayne, the Colts' perennial All-Pro receiver. That means getting together between the end of this month and July 28, the start of training camp in Anderson. Location will be a challenge given Wayne lives in Miami in the off-season while Luck, who graduates from Stanford this weekend, is from California.
“We'll work something out,” Wayne said. “I don't mind going to the West Coast. I'm so much down south and on the East Coast. A West Coast trip isn't bad.”
Wayne and Luck got their first extensive work together during this week's three-day mini camp, which ended Thursday. Wayne said he was impressed.
“He throws a pretty doggone nice ball. It has a nice spiral to it. It has some zip. He gets it in there. He puts it in the right spot. Once we get the timing down, we'll have some special things going.”
Timing includes learning a new offense, a new coaching staff and basically a new roster. Forty-two Colts are either rookies or in their first years in the organization. Peyton Manning is now running Denver's offensive show.
“It does feel like a new organization, from the playbook on down to the whole offensive roster,” Wayne said. “There are so many different people. Some of the terminology is totally different. I'm a rookie all over again.”
For a decade Wayne put up numbers to rival any NFL receiver. But when quarterback Manning missed all of last season with a neck injury, those numbers fell.
Wayne finished with 75 catches for 960 yards and four touchdowns. That ended a seven-year streak of at least 1,000 receiving yards and six straight seasons of at least 83 receptions. The 12-year veteran has career totals of 862 catches for 11,708 yards and 73 touchdowns.
He's a guy who needs to get the ball and Luck intends to deliver.
“Reggie is an incredible player,” he said. “When you have a guy like that, you want to get him the ball.
“It's early for me to give this answer, but he'll get his touches. He'll move around to make sure he gets those touches. The easier it is for him to get in different spots to get the touches, the better.”
The transition from the Manning era's12 straight winning seasons, including the 2007 Super Bowl, is expected to take time. Only seven Colts are over 30, with the oldest being 39-year-old kicker Adam Vinatieri.
“I'm out there with all these young guys,” the 33-year-old Wayne said. “They're keeping me young. This playbook is definitely keeping me young. There are many nights without sleep, but it's fun. I'm enjoying it. I'm enjoying learning it again.
“Even though I was in one system for 11 years, I won't say it was boring, but it was the same thing. This wakes me up a little bit. It gives me something to look forward to.”
First-year head coach Chuck Pagano, who came from a veteran situation at Baltimore, takes the same approach.
“It's keeping us all young,” he said. “It's like Satchel Paige said -- if you didn't know how old you were, how old would you act? It keeps you on your toes.
“There will be some mistakes made because of that lack of experience, but there's nothing like youth. It will pay dividends down the road.”
Wayne said dividends already are surfacing.
“We're headed in the right direction. Everybody is believing in the system, believing in what's going on.
“We want to continue to keep the Colts tradition. Bring on those winning ways we're used to. We have a great coaching staff. Guys are loose and enjoying what's going on.”
Enjoyment has its limits. Last year's 2-14 record still ticks off veteran Robert Mathis.
“There's a massive chip on our shoulders,” the defensive end turned inside linebacker said. “Winning is the only thing that can shrink it or get it off. We're working towards it.”
Wednesday's public workout at Lucas Oil Stadium was a reminder of the season's rock-somebody's-world passion.
“As soon as you step onto that field you get that little jolt, that little fire,” Mathis said. “You're ready to hit somebody for real. It will come when it comes. We'll get everything done in the meantime. Make sure we do what we do.”
What rookies such as Luck, and tight ends Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen will do over the next two weeks is to continue working out at the Colts' northwest side facility. They're allowed 10 hours a day and it will include strength training, plus classroom work and on-the-field sessions with offensive coordinator Bruce Arians and quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen.
As for the rest of the Colts, it's all about restoring that winning tradition.
“Chemistry is going to be huge,” Pagano said. “Whether you're talking about the Los Angeles Kings winning the NHL championship or the NBA finals, everything is about chemistry. Being close as a team is what we're trying to build here.”
Added Wayne: “So far so good. We have a long ways to go, but I like where we're headed.”