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Reggie Wayne’s production hasn’t waned
INDIANAPOLIS – Reggie Wayne, meet the “Legion of Boom.”
Not that any introductions will be needed at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sunday, when the Seahawks’ talented, aggressive and athletic secondary sets it sights on Wayne, the leading receiver for the Indianapolis Colts not just this season by for seven of the past nine seasons.
The All-Pro duo of free safety Earl Thomas and cornerback Richard Sherman and the Pro Bowl-caliber tandem of strong safety Kam Chancellor and cornerback Brandon Browner grew up watching Wayne slice, dice and dissect defenders – literally, since Wayne entered the NFL in 2001, when the strength of the Seahawks’ No. 5-ranked defense was in high school (Browner) and junior high (Thomas, Chancellor and Sherman).
So Wayne hasn’t just been playing for a long time, he been a productive player for a long time while catching passes first from Peyton Manning and now Andrew Luck.
“He’s proven it,” is the way Seahawks coach Pete Carroll put it. “He’s very, very consistent. Great route runner. Great catching range. Understands everything that you need to understand to find the spaces and utilize it. He’s a go-to guy – leading target guy, leading catcher for them.
“He’s a fantastic player.”
And, Wayne is a player the Colts move around, so we might as well include nickel back Walter Thurmond in the introductory process because – like Sherman, Browner, Thomas and Chancellor – he’ll not only be seeing Wayne for the first time, he’ll be lined up on him from time to time.
“Everybody in the offense, starting with our quarterback and then myself and everybody else, would tell you there’s no way that we would have the success and be where we are today – or been able to do what we did a year ago – without Reggie Wayne,” Colts coach Chuck Pagano said. “He is so important and we see all of the things that he does on the field on Sundays.
“What he does Monday through Saturday is way more important than all of that stuff, and you really can’t put a price tag on it.”
But then Wayne, who’s in his 13th NFL season and turns 35 next month, isn’t the first proven receiver the Seahawks will have faced.
In the season opener, the Panthers’ Steve Smith caught six passes for 61 yards – and he has averaged four catches for 46 yards in the Carolina’s other two games.
In the Seahawks’ home opener, the 49ers’ Anquan Boldin was held to one catch for 7 yards – and he has averaged 7.7 catches for 121.7 yards in San Francisco’s other three games, including a 13-catch, 208-yard performance the week before being “Boom-ed.”
Last week, the Texans’ Andre Johnson had nine catches and 110 yards – which was average (8.3 receptions) and above average (86) for his averages in Houston’s other three games.
So facing high-profile wide-outs isn’t something the Seahawks haven’t seen before, and won’t see again.
“Reggie Wayne is incredibly effective, and he’s been effective for a long time,” Sherman said. “He’s had great quarterbacks in those years with Peyton, but he also had great years receiving when he didn’t have the best quarterbacks in the world.”
Like 2011, when Manning was out with a neck injury and Curtis Painter was the QB. Wayne still caught 75 passes.
“He’s very crafty and he’s a veteran,” Sherman added of Wayne. “He has tricks and he has reasons why he’s been playing so long.”
And how do the Seahawks prevent Wayne from turning those tricks into treats on Sunday?
“We’ll have our hands full,” defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said. “They feature him in different ways and he’s a really important guy for them on third down. We hold him in high regard, just in terms of the balance and body control and the way he can catch.”