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Will Darrius Heyward-Bey, seen here scoring against Denver, be "the next man up" after Reggie Wayne?
Courtesy of the Colts
After the massive win against the Denver Broncos on a national stage the Colts are coming off a bye week and are now rested and prepared for the second half of the season.
and emotional victory against Peyton Manning and his previously undefeated Broncos provided
the Colts with a giant high and sadly there was also a major low after the game with the season-ending injury to veteran wide receiver Reggie Wayne.
How will they replace his leadership and production? The fashionable phrase in the NFL is
always, "next man up," but in most cases that is easier said than done.
The trading deadline came and went and the Colts opted to not go out and bring in a veteran
receiver to help carry the team to the playoffs and beyond.
Who will Andrew Luck rely on with Reggie gone for the year? Will Darrius Heyward-Bey be able
to fulfill his early promise as a top No. 1 receiver? Will Trent Richardson start looking like
the third overall pick in the draft last year?
The second half of the season will provide the answers to these questions and the Colts will
look to prove the "next man up" theory can really work for them.
The playoffs are almost a certainty with the rest of the division struggling, but how deep this
team can go in the playoffs without one of its spiritual and production leaders is the question
looming over the Colts Complex this week.
The Colts (5-2) come off the bye and right into another prime time game this Sunday vs. the
floundering Houston Texans (2-5).
Today at the Colts Complex Coach Pagano spoke about not looking past their divisional foes:
"First and foremost, our number one goal is to win the division. That road goes through
Houston. They won it the last two years. Right now our total focus is on Houston. To give us a
chance to win the division we have to beat them."
The Houston defense is dealing with their own version of "next man up." They lost star
linebacker Brian Cushing last week for the year. Pagano is still impressed with the rest of their
"They have game wreckers. Their front seven is one of the best in football. They have the best
defensive player in J.J. Watt."
How will the Colts replace Reggie Wayne? They won't, but Pagano and the team have
expectations on the next men up.
"It's a great opportunity and the expectations don't change. The locker room expects them to do
well, so they better play at high level and produce. Darrius Heyward-Bey will need to step up.
The plays are there to be made on a consistent basis and with Reggie out, he has to assume
that leadership role. He never had a vet like Reggie in the room before. They (Colts WR's) were
around the guy long enough to understand, the way he practices, film study, you saw a future
Hall-of-Famer do it. emulate that."
The Coach has been in touch with Reggie Wayne on a regular basis and said that he is doing
great. Wayne's wife is physical therapist and she is, "whipping up on him pretty good."
Andrew Luck talked about Reggie being out and having it feel strange to not have him around.
The quarterback even glanced over at Reggie's locker when he commented on missing his
What me worry? When discussing the receivers that will be stepping up to help fill in the missing
production of Wayne, Andrew didn't seem too concerned about their lack of chemistry.
Colts Quarterback Andrew Luck
"I don't think we'll miss a beat. Maybe certain things or routes that Reggie always got, there
might be a couple things in practice we have to work on but... I don't think we'll miss a beat on
Sunday when it comes to receiver production and on my end."
Outside linebacker Robert Mathis has played long enough to know that a team like Houston is designed to beat the
other teams in their division.
"When it comes to division games it's a different situation; you can throw the records out, it's like
a dogfight," he said.
Colts outside linebacker Robert Mathis is ready for a dogfight.
Another big stage, and another opportunity for the Colts to show everyone they can battle
adversity and emotional stress and come out on top. A win against the Texans will almost
certainly take away any hopes they have of going to the playoffs this year.
You can bet they will
be bringing their best effort, but this Colts team is used to that.