ANDERSON, Ind. (AP) — Reggie Wayne wants the Colts to live this season in the fast lane.
The perennial Pro Bowl receiver hitched a ride to training camp Wednesday with two-time Indianapolis 500 pole winner Ed Carpenter to deliver one clear message: The team that starts fast and finishes strong the most times is going to win the Super Bowl race.
“I think it’s meant to come out fast, to have a sense of urgency,” Wayne said after climbing out of the two-seat Indy car that revved its engines at every stop light during the 4 1/2-mile drive across town. “This is one way for us to come out with a motto for the team.”
It was a perfect pairing.
Carpenter, a longtime Colts fan, knows all about fast starts. He won the last two Indy poles with four-lap averages of 231 mph and 229 mph.
Wayne is no stranger to splashy entrances. A year ago, he flew to camp in an Indiana University Health Lifeline helicopter with a young man who was recovering from a serious farm accident. Two years ago, Wayne dressed in camouflage fatigues as part of a military convoy. Before that, he came in a dump truck, a bus and another time shared a taxi with close friend and former teammate Edgerrin James. Heck, he even showed up in 2006 wearing James’ new jersey after the Colts’ career rushing leader signed with Arizona in free agency.
Wayne’s choice of transportation also came with a point — everything from dreaming big to being a work in progress to taking care of one another’s backs.
But with Wayne entering the final year of his contract and trying to return from a torn ACL at age 35, this year’s symbolism was understandably mixed.
His intention was to demonstrate that Indy had to rid itself of the early-game struggles from 2013 and ease the late-game pressure on Andrew Luck, who already has 11 fourth-quarter wins in just two seasons.
Reporters also wondered whether the race car was intended to prove that he also has regained his wheels after nearly nine months of rehab.
“I guess you can look at it like that,” he said with a smile. “I do feel good, and hopefully I’ll come out and pick up where I left off.”
Wayne said he has been medically cleared to practice, but doctors and coaches have been cautious about pushing him with workouts set to begin Thursday. The Colts will spend most of camp in Anderson until Aug. 13, and Wayne is eager to get back on the field.
“My objective is to be out there the first game,” he said before taking a playful jab at coach Chuck Pagano, who said last month he’d need security to keep Wayne off the field. “I do have my boxing gloves for Coach Pagano so we may have to duke it out.”
As for his ride, well, it was the talk of camp.
Carpenter, an Indy native and longtime Colts’ fan, drove the car in his familiar green-and-white Fuzzy’s Vodka driving suit. Wayne was in the backseat in a blue-and-white fire suit and decorated his white racing helmet with a blue horseshoe and the number 87 across the back.
Offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton, quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen and backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck all lined up at the edge of the players’ parking lot to catch a glimpse of what they already knew was coming.
“I’ve heard what he’s doing and this might be his best yet,” Christensen said before the arrival.
Wayne called it his favorite entrance.
The only real problem was weather.
Carpenter, who grew up around Indianapolis Motor Speedway and knows all about the trouble rain can cause for Indy cars, worried when it rained twice during the morning. The showers moved out just long enough to allow two of the city’s biggest athletes to make the 10-minute drive to Anderson University.
“I’m glad we got to do it,” Carpenter said. “He didn’t seem nervous at all. I think he felt a little awkward and uncomfortable in the suit, but I told him I’d feel awkward and uncomfortable in his suit, too.”