The Norman Transcript

Sports

December 5, 2013

Colts aren’t the same without Reggie Wayne

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts aren’t the same team without Reggie Wayne.

In the five games since Wayne tore his right ACL against the Denver Broncos, Indianapolis is averaging 19.6 points. In the seven games Wayne played, the Colts averaged 26.7 points.

The offensive line has failed to protect quarterback Andrew Luck. T.Y. Hilton, the new No. 1 receiver, is adjusting to being double teamed, and the other receivers haven’t made up the difference.

Indy’s offense hit rock bottom in a 38-8 loss to St. Louis on Nov. 10 and a 40-11 loss at Arizona on Nov. 24.

Though the group hasn’t looked like the one that derailed Denver earlier this season, Indianapolis has won three of five since Wayne’s injury. Indianapolis (8-4) can wrap up the AFC South title with a victory Sunday at Cincinnati.

“As of late, we’ve been like the Rocky Balboa of the National Football League,” Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton said. “We get bloodied up, but we find a way to finish on top.”

It’s questionable whether that approach will work in the playoffs. The Colts have been particularly bad in the first half. In the five games without Wayne, Indianapolis has scored 24 points before halftime. The Colts have scored 75 points after the break in those games.

“We have our moments where we’re hot and we’re able to move the ball and we’re able to score touchdowns,” Hamilton said. “We’ve got to make it a point of emphasis, as we always have, to find a way to get started a lot faster.”

Darrius Heyward-Bey, who was supposed to fill some of Wayne’s productivity, has struggled with drops. Despite starting four of five games since Wayne’s injury, Heyward-Bey has just nine catches for 96 yards during that stretch.

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