Reggie rolls on for Colts in stately Wayne manner

669640.jpg

Reggie rolls on for Colts in stately Wayne manner

OXBORO - The Patriots made two shrewd picks in the 2001 NFL draft - Richard Seymour at No. 6 and Matt Light at No. 48.

But the need for a wideout back then was such that there was much lobbying outside Foxboro Stadium for the Patriots to pull the trigger on someone to help bail out Drew Bledsoe.

Reggie Wayne went 30th to the Colts that year. Now, we're not trying to roll back history and say the Patriots "missed" on Wayne. But he was known as a technically proficient route-runner at Miami with magnificent hands and - for the past 12 seasons - he's been as reliable as the sunrise.

He'll turn 34 on Saturday and his numbers this year with the newly remade Colts make him seem like a latter-day Art Monk.

He's got 69 catches so far this season and - by the end of the year - he'll be darn close to 1,000 for his career (he has 931). You could say, "if he stays healthy" but that's the other thing about Wayne. He hasn't missed a game since his rookie year.

And this year, he's been reinvented a little bit. After spending much of his career as Marvin Harrison's partner-in-crime on the receiving end of throws from Peyton Manning, Wayne re-upped with the Colts for the Andrew Luck era. And he's been terrific operating with Luck in the system that offensive coordinator Bruce Arians brought with him from Pittsburgh

"They moved him around a little in the past, but not much," said Bill Belichick. "And now he's Hines Ward. They motion him a lot, he's blocking, cracking, he's lining up close to the formation, he's in the slot, he's doing a lot of things that Hines Ward did in Pittsburgh.

"It's interesting to see him in that role, but he's always been good at whatever he's done," he said. "You see him work the middle of the field on middle reads, and on option routes or that kind of thing, or working on the perimeter. He's good at all of it."

Wayne had 75 catches last season with a collection of ineffective Colts quarterbacks throwing to him. But Belichick is quick to point out that Wayne wasn't responsible for his drop below 80 catches for the first time since 2004.

"I don't really see Reggie Wayne much differently than I saw him in the past," Belichick stated. "He was good then, he's good now. There were some issues with the quarterback and passing game and all that, but I didn't see any dropoff in Reggie Wayne as a football player. Maybe I missed it, but he's always looked pretty good to me."

Good enough so that the Patriots made an offseason run at signing Wayne before he returned to Indy.

Belichick told the Indianapolis media on Wednesday he believes Wayne is having a "Hall of Fame career."

Arians, who's been the Colts interim head coach in place of Chuck Pagano, makes it clear that Wayne's influence has extended far beyond his 69 receptions.

Arians mentioned that, a couple of weeks back, there were eight first-year players on the field during Indy's winning drive against the Dolphins.

"The rookies have followed the pied piper, and thats Reggie Wayne," said Arians. "He sets the tempo for us offensively and then Andrew is the second guy in line. If he can handle it, then they can handle it and Reggie makes sure that the receiving corps and everybody else is ready to go."

Arians said there was little doubt Wayne would return to Indy.

"Hes a Colt and he wanted to be a Colt bad. Hes a legend here and hes going to go into the Hall of Fame," Arians predicted. "Im really lucky because Ive gotten a chance to have my second receiver catch 1,000 passes and maybe get to two induction ceremonies (Hines Ward being the other). He always wanted to be here and as soon as Chuck made that call, it was just a matter of, Yeah Im coming. He knew what he was getting into and I think hes excited more than anybody with the change hes a rookie in this offense too because he sat out on the left side for 10 years and now hes all over the place, running routes that hes never run before. So hes jumped in and hes really excited about it. You cant put a quantified value on how much his leadership means to our team."

Like every season, this year's MVP debate will revolve around the best players on the best teams or the ones who put up eye-popping individual numbers.

So far, though, no player's been more valuable in more ways than Wayne's been to Indy.

Mueller aims to take advantage of opportunity in tonight's Bruins-Wings game

bruins-peter-mueller-092816.jpg

Mueller aims to take advantage of opportunity in tonight's Bruins-Wings game

BRIGHTON -- Tonight’s Bruins-Red Wings game against the Red Wings should be a big chance for training-camp invite Peter Mueller as he readies to skate in a second straight exhibition game after a quiet night in the opener against the Columbus Blue Jackets. 

The former 22-goal scorer with the Coyotes felt he was “solid” and “held his own” while not getting any shots on neta againsy Columbus. The veteran winger feels like he’s again starting to pick up the NHL pace after spending the last three years in Europe, and that’s mandatory to start making plays. 

“It was a good adjustment, but hopefully tonight I show a little more skill, a few more pucks to the net and create some more offense,” said Mueller. “I would rather play in most of the [exhibition] games, to be honest with you, and to get in-game-like scenarios and prepare yourself for each and every game. In my position I’m happy that I’m playing tonight and hopefully I can keep trying to impress the people [making decisions].”

The 26-year-old former first-round pick will be in a favorable spot, skating in a possible third-line, right-wing audition with Ryan Spooner and Matt Beleskey. He'll also serve as another established player in a more veteran-laden lineup Wednesday night vs. the Winged Wheels at TD Garden. With Frankie Vatrano out for the next three months, these are the kind of chances Mueller needs to knock out of the park if he wants to fend off younger competition for one of those B’s roster spots up front. 

“It definitely favors the type of game I want to play,” said Mueller, when asked about the chance to skate in a spot with Spooner and Beleskey that he would likely fill whre he to crack the NHL roster. “With two skill guys, hopefully we can create some chemistry and some offense early and obviously that helps with the flow of the game. Hopefully I can just showcase my skills and the work ethic that I’m trying to bring to the team. Overall, hopefully we have a good game tonight.”

Sean Kuraly is also playing in his second straight exhibition, and will move over to the left wing skating with Austin Czarnik and left wing Zachary Senyshyn in what amounts to a kid line for the Bruins. One would expect the same goaltending rotation in this game, with Malcolm Subban getting the first two periods and Daniel Vladar getting the game’s final 20 minutes. Here are the line combos and D-pairings according to the rushes during morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena:
 
Beleskey-Spooner-Mueller
Kuraly-Czarnik-Senyshyn
Gabrielle-Moore-Ferlin
Blidh-Acciari-Hickman
 
Grzelcyk-McQuaid
Lauzon-C. Miller
Arnesson-Casto
 
Subban
Vladar
 

Wednesday's Pats-Bills practice report: Jimmy G., Brissett both 'limited'

patriots-garoppolo-brissett-081516.jpg

Wednesday's Pats-Bills practice report: Jimmy G., Brissett both 'limited'

FOXBORO -- The highly-anticipated first Patriots injury report of the week was released on Wednesday afternoon, and it was fairly predictable. 

Both injured quarterbacks were active but limited in their practice participation, the report indicated. That comes as little surprise as both Jimmy Garoppolo (shoulder) and Jacoby Brissett (thumb) were spotted throwing passes early in Wednesday's practice. Neither appeared to be experiencing any significant discomfort as they made their warm-up throws. 

Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower (knee) and tight end Rob Gronkowski (hamstring) were also limited. Gronkowski admitted that the team was taking it slow with him in his first game back on the field last week -- he played just 14 snaps in New England's win over Houston -- but he said on Wednesday that he hoped to go "freakin' crazy" on the field soon.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
QB Jacoby Brissett (right thumb)
OT Marcus Cannon (calf)
G Jonathan Cooper (foot)
LB Jonathan Freeny (shoulder)
QB Jimmy Garoppolo (shoulder)
TE Rob Gronkowski (hamstring)
LB Dont'a Hightower (knee)
CB Eric Rowe (ankle)

BUFFALO BILLS

DID NOT PARTICIPATE
TE Charles Clay (knee)
OL Cyrus Kouandjio (ankle)
OL Patrick Lewis (knee)
WR Sammy Watkins (foot)

LIMITED PARTICIPATION
DB Colt Anderson (foot)
DB Ronald Darby (hamstring)
QB Cardale Jones (right shoulder)
DB Jonathan Meeks (foot)
WR Greg Salas (groin)
DB Aaron Williams (ankle)
OL Cordy Glenn (ankle)