Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

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October 23, 2013

Pagano: Colts will rally around Wayne

ANDERSON — For better or for worse, the 2013 Indianapolis Colts received their rallying cry Monday afternoon.

#ReggieStrong, anyone?

Just hours after Sunday night’s epic 39-33 victory against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, the Colts learned veteran wide receiver Reggie Wayne will miss the remainder of the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

Wayne was injured during the fourth quarter on a poorly thrown ball by Andrew Luck. As the team’s leading receiver went down to attempt a catch near his feet, his foot got stuck in the Lucas Oil Stadium turf.

Wayne remained down for several minutes on the field — an early sign of trouble from the receiver who almost always bounces up immediately after a hit — and had an emotional reaction on the sideline before heading to the locker room.

On Monday, an MRI revealed the extent of the damage and ended Wayne’s season.

“We hate to lose anybody, but this one stings,” head coach Chuck Pagano told reporters at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center. “See, you just don’t replace guys like 87.”

Wayne had 38 catches for 503 yards this season, and he made his 1,000th career catch last week at San Diego. But as much as Indianapolis will miss his production on the field, Wayne’s impact on his fellow receivers is just as important.

Defenses must scheme for the wily veteran, and that opens up more opportunities for Darrius Heyward-Bey and T.Y. Hilton. Now, both of those men will have to run sharper routes and win more one-on-one battles.

The plan, for now, is to replace Wayne by committee. LaVon Brazill and David Reed also are on the active roster, and Da’Rick Rogers and Griff Whalen are available on the practice squad.

“You can’t replace him, but somebody will rise up,” Pagano said. “Just like you lose anybody else, it’s next man up.”

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