Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano confirmed Saturday his 35-year-old wide receiver is good to go at the New York Giants on Monday Night Football. He missed the last game with a left elbow strain.
But the Colts have decided not to activate Landry, a safety coming off a four-game league suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. The team had the option of using a one-week exemption and not activating Landry until Tuesday. Pagano had previously expressed doubt about Landry being ready to play after one month of inactivity. Sergio Brown will start again for Landry.
Walden, and outside linebacker who suffered a hip flexor injury in Sunday’s 51-34 loss at Pittsburgh, will not be ready. Nor will Jones, a defensive tackle who had just returned from a high ankle sprain but re-injured it against the Steelers.
Wayne suffered his injury in the first quarter of the Colts’ 27-0 home win over Cincinnati on Oct. 19. He finished the game, but had a couple of drops.
The Colts’ No. 2 pass catcher with 38 receptions for 434 yards and one TD was adamant after Saturday’s practice that he is ready.
“If I’m going to play, I’m going to play,” Wayne said, when asked if he might be limited. “Like I told you at the beginning of the year, I’m like an old school car; you can’t leave me in the garage all day. I might not start on you. If I’m going to play, if I’m going out there, I’m expecting to play. If I’m going to be limited, I might as well continue to get treatment. But I feel good. I had a couple days of practice where I felt pretty good, caught the ball pretty well. Hopefully I’ll wake up in the morning and there’s no setbacks and go from there.”
While Wayne is one of the franchise’s all-time great receivers, he’s just as valuable as a locker leader. Quarterback Andrew Luck considers it an honor to play with No. 87, and while the NFL’s No. 1 offense has several weapons, Wayne is often a go-to guy on third down or when the Colts need a big play.
“I can catch. That’s what I’m paid to do,” he said. “And also, just being able to block, just going out there and just punching and being able to block. That tells me that I’m headed on the right track. The main thing was just making sure I get my strength back. That was what the whole thing about it last week was. It was pretty weak and also in the Cincinnati game, when I dropped those two passes, I had no strength and I couldn’t stop the ball and the ball just coming through my hands. I had to gain some strength back and thank God I ain’t the strongest guy in the world, so just the little strength that I do have, I was able to regain that and get back out there on the field.”
Many of the players have spoken about the thrill of playing on Monday Night Football. Wayne was asked if he particularly enjoys playing in primetime.
“I do. I enjoy playing anytime. Whether it’s Monday night, Tuesday evening, Wednesday morning, it doesn’t matter,” he said. “Whenever you have the opportunity to go out there, especially for a primetime game, coming off of the type of loss we had last week, you have an opportunity to right the wrong. We have an opportunity to go out there and show the world what Colts football really is. This Monday night couldn’t get here fast enough. I think I speak for the team on that. After the game last week, we would have played when the plane landed. We knew last week was tough. We didn’t go out there and show everybody what Colts football was about. Luckily for us, like you said, a primetime game is coming up. We’ve got an opportunity to turn things around. Hopefully we can get everything that we want to get done. Then go into the bye week with smiles instead of frowns.”
The Colts will likely use Josh Chapman in a rotation at nose tackle with rookie Zach Kerr and second-year pro Montori Hughes. Walden’s absence should provide snaps to rookie Jonathan Newsome and/or veteran Andy Studebaker. Linebacker Josh McNary (ankle) has also been ruled out.
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.