In MLB, the scariest phrase is “Tommy John surgery.” In the NFL and NBA, the scariest phrase without question has to be “torn ACL.” Well, on second thought, maybe “compound fracture of the tibia and fibula” takes the cake here (sorry, Paul George).
Regardless, all of these injuries are terrible to see whenever a player suffers any of them, mostly because of the uncertainty that comes with them. Medical surgeries and physical rehabilitations have obviously developed into what many consider modern-day miracles with how advanced and successful they are, but there’s always the fear that the player won’t return to who they were previously after such a serious recovery.
Indianapolis Colts star WR Reggie Wayne suffered a torn right ACL back in October of last season. Many wonder, can he come back from such an injury, especially at the age of 35?
All reports out of training camp, which ended Wednesday, suggest Wayne is back to full health and looking like his old self. However, the Colts still held him out of their first preseason game last week as a precaution. It’s yet to be determined if he’ll play tonight against the New York Giants as well.
“(We’re) just kind of playing it by ear,” Chuck Pagano said according to The News-Sentinel. “He looks really good out there, running around good. Obviously, we’re keeping a close eye on him, watching his reps and things like that. We’ll just play it by ear.”
Obviously, our first glimpse of Wayne in pads and at full speed would be in the preseason. When that debut occurs, as you just read, we still don’t know. But don’t fret, Colts fans, recent history of torn ACLs has been very positive in nature. His age may play a factor, but 35 isn’t all that old anymore. With as solid as Wayne has been the past two seasons while healthy, it’s a good possibility that he’ll return strong.
His knee has been reconstructed, and the combination of rest and rehab over the past 9-10 months should have him feeling fresh at this point. I anticipate we’ll see him in action in probably the third preseason game at the very least, with a couple of quarters of action with the starters. If and when that time comes, I believe everyone will be pleased with the results.
The main reason I think we’ll see the Wayne of old is because of his style of play. His game — what he does well — doesn’t involve tremendous speed or drastic change of direction or anything of the sort. He’s never exactly been the most explosive receiver. However, what he does have is some of the best route-running ability in the league and we all know how consistent his hands are. A serious knee injury won’t take away his style of play, and because of that, he hasn’t had to change anything because of the injury.
Wayne is due for a big year, and despite the emergence of T.Y. Hilton and the signing of Hakeem Nicks, I still expect Wayne to be the No. 1 guy in 2014. Andrew Luck’s favorite target and safety net has undoubtedly been Wayne in the QB’s young career, and now that No. 87 is back, I believe Luck will be happy to find him often once more.
While it certainly isn’t a sure thing, there’s good odds he’ll have the type of impact he had pre-injury. And I, for one, am interested and excited to see how he plays once he’s officially back.